A big congratulations to the Museu do Douro for winning the Best of Wine Tourism Award for 2015! During our Harvest trip, we visited the Museu do Douro for the first time. Several people had recommended it, and because we were also staying in Peso da Regua, we made a point of visiting one morning before we left town to visit some Quintas. Even if you typically don’t visit Museums, we highly recommend the Museu do Douro, especially if you want to know more about the region and Port wine in general. Some of the interactive and visual elements make this museum a pleasure to visit, although it’s fairly small, it’s full of interesting information that will most likely answer questions you may have had after visiting a nearby winery.
Traditional harvest and wine making tools, decanters, and other historical artifacts are sprinkled throughout the small showroom, but what makes this Museum unique is the layout: the displays are organized in chronological order. Walking around the full length of the ground floor, you’ll follow the development of the region, and see just how long wine has been apart of its history. Interactive stations give more detail to the demarcation (official borders) of the region, let you browse through a map of the Quintas, learn about the different native Portuguese grape varieties and the Phyllexoria epidemic. You’ll learn about everything from the varying types of rocky soil (schist) found throughout the region, to the stories behind some of the most influential people that helped shape the region into what it is today.
Covering more than just the history, there’s also plenty of fun and practical information to be found in the Museum, including Douro wine facts that everyone should know. On the above floor, you’ll find simple graphics illustrating some statistics and port wine facts; including a scale showing average aging of every style of port wine (as seen below), along with the color of the wine in relation to time spent aging (Ruby gets darker, Tawny gets lighter with age). A wall full of mounted bottles of Douro wines even shows the average wine consumption all over the world.
Another great interactive display is a selection of some basic aromas, most often found in wine (particularly Port). Each in its own vial, you can smell a very concentrated sample of some common aromas related to wine, such as: nuts, violets, peach, honey and caramel among others. Experiencing such intense aromas individually is a great way to help you identify them when you drink wine, giving you a deeper appreciation for just how complex some wine can be.
On the ground floor, there is also a large, 3D terrain display of the Douro region. Acting as a kind of blank canvas for a projector above, it rotates through displaying facts about wine and population as it pertains to the geography of the region. It’s another great interactive element that makes learning about the region compelling and memorable. It also helps you grasp just how small, but diverse this region is, when you see it presented physically.
Its modern and minimalist design makes this museum a must see, especially for those interested in practical facts and interactive elements, rather than just observing artifacts through glass (they have that, too). Its small size, along with its location on the main street along the river, also makes it a nice detour next time you’re in town and have an hour to spare, especially if you’re new to wine and/or the region, this museum offers a nice snapshot of the Douro. Also note that included in the entrance fee is a tasting of a Port wine at the end, in their very extensive gift shop where you can purchase books, wine from all over the Douro, and traditional crafts among others.