If at first you don’t impress, try, try again



It’s unfortunate that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Example: Our first impression of Portuguese wine was that it was pleasant, retiring and lacking in muscle tone. This evaluation was based on our experience with vinho verde (“green wine”) and Dao vinho tinto (“red wine”).

Vinho verde is deliberately light, low in alcohol, fruity and refreshing. There’s even a cool little spritz to it. A picnic wine. Dao is generally light- to medium-bodied, not so fruity (unless licorice is a fruit) and dry. Our brother-in-law, who is Portuguese, buys Dao and vinho verde by the truckload. He gets it cheap.

What he has never bought is Herdade do Rocim Touriga Nacional 2016, a life-altering, full-bodied red, heavy in structure, replete with black cherry and raspberry and mouth-drying tannins. In terms of muscle tone, we are talking Popeye.

So, are we agreed that first impressions are not only unrepeatable but unreliable? We tried to make this point many, many times with our father-in-law.

Here’s another news flash: Touriga Nacional is NOT the official name of the Portuguese tourism authority. It’s a grape variety! Like, how are you going to figure that out? We Googled it, of course, and learned that Touriga Nacional is THE big grape in Portugal. Except it’s little. The grapes, that is: they run the gamut from tiny to small. With the result that the yields are the lowest of any grape variety in the country. Which might explain why the aforementioned brother-in-law hasn’t served it: There ain’t that much of it.

What there is, though, is an exceptionally dry, intense red with strong tannins, bold flavors and bright acidity. The relatively small harvest with a limited distribution of product invokes the law of supply and demand and, thus, requires a respectable price: $14.99 at Global Beverage in Ellsworth.

Hmmm … $14.99.

Just figured out why our brother-in-law doesn’t buy it.

Stephen Fay

Stephen Fay

Managing Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Fay, managing editor of The Ellsworth American since 1996, is a third-generation Californian. Starting out as a news reporter in 1974, he has been an editor since 1976, working in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont before settling in Ellsworth with his wife and two daughters. [email protected]