To kick off the festive season, Susana Tocca, CEO at IPBN member company DOC DMC Services Events and Wine and COO at Excelência de Portugal took attendees of the Special IPBN Christmas Festivities for Wine Lovers online event through a whirlwind of wines, sharing what she has learned through her years as a travel expert, event coordinator, guide, and wine aficionado here in Portugal. She began by explaining, “Quintas in Portuguese can either be a house or a piece of land or both. Generally in the North of Portugal, wine estates are called Quintas whereas in the south they are called Herdades”. Susanna began the virtual tour by introducing a wine estate nearby Lisboa: Quinta da Murta in Bucelas, just half an hour outside of Lisbon. The Quinta produces a bottle of sparkling wine from the Arento grape, mentioned in a Shakespeare play Henry VI, aptly named “The Wine of Shakespeare” that she recommended for the holidays. The Espumante Bruto Natural 2015 DOC is elegant and has been classified as one of the best by Portuguese wine critics.
Adega Mae was the next vineyard Susanna mentioned, that distributes and produces premium Atlantic wine of Torres Vedras, making the wine special in that you taste the salty notes in their whites. The vineyard itself sports fantastic architecture and offers wine tasting events and group lunches and dinners at their well-known Sal na Adega restaurant. The oak-barrel aged Adega Mae Reserva 2019 branco (white) made from Alvarinho, Chardonnay, and Viosinho grapes goes well with codfish, especially when served with potatoes and marinated onions— the traditional dish eaten at a Portuguese Christmas Eve dinner.
The Quinta do Gradil vineyard has historical grounds as their Quinta was founded in the 15th century, originally belonging to the Marques de Pombal family. The vineyard offers wine tastings and visitations along with a minimum 6-person lunch menu and offers itself as an events space for anniversaries or weddings. Susanna recommends the Quinta do Gradil Reserva oak-barrel aged fortifies red wine made of Touriga Nacional, Tannat, and Alicante Bouschet grapes. Serve with turkey or beef for a fantastic hearty dinner with an exquisite finish down to the last drop.
Moving North to the Douro, a UNESCO world heritage site in its own right, Susanna recommends checking out the Quinta da Casa Amarela, just over 350km from Lisbon. This 19th-century small winery is family-owned and operated, and produces premium sustainable port, white, and red wines. The charming adega also offers a guesthouse with four suites right on the vineyard. The wine Susanna recommends is the Quinta's Elisio 2016 Douro, a bright, deep, ruby red with oak barrel, blackberry, plum, licorice, and cherry notes and offers a velvety finish perfect for cabrito or other gamey meat dishes. She also mentioned the Casa Amarela’s 10 year Port Tawny, with a caramel taste with a flavor of chocolate and dried fruits lending to a fresh finish.
Heading south by 200km from Lisbon to the Alentejo, to the Herdade do Sobroso Luxury Wine Hotel, one of the first of its kind in the country. The 1,600-hectare estate is covered with cork trees and vineyards and produces upscale, premium wines at good values. The herdade offers tastings, lunches, and dinners with pairings, a safari on the grounds of the Herdade, and 11 cozy guest rooms and suites ripe for the taking. Susanna’s recommendation is the elegant and festive Archê 2015 Herdade do Sobroso red wine of Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouchet, Syrah, and Touriga Nacional grapes, aged for 12 months in French oak casks, spending another 12 months in the bottle before it is served. For those looking for a little more kick on the Christmas table, Susanna recommended the Archê Aguardente vínica velha, a “firewater” that can be best enjoyed as one would do a cognac— by the fireplace.
Next, Sarah O’Connor, the Digital Marketing Manager from IPBN member company ufurnish.com joined us to explain what ufurnish.com does and how you can use the site to find the right item to perfect your home for the holidays. ufurnish.com is an innovative market-leading search engine that reinvents the way furniture and furnishings are searched and purchased online. The site brings together over one million products from over 100 furniture retailers, all on one platform.
In terms of getting your home ready for Christmas, the ufurnish.com team sat down and decided that getting home guests ready to enjoy their stay is number one on the Christmas tick list. An extra place to sleep, an extra chair at the table, and more. Extending dining tables allow you to be economical with your space, while unfolding to stretch as far as 10 people comfortably for Christmas dinner. Mismatched dining chairs to draw up to the table are helpful to add seating while remaining a sort of statement chair in your home during the rest of the year.
Sarah went on to say that modular sofas like those from Swyft, also can give your home a breath of change while being used as sleeping areas for guest overflow. It’s also easy to remove a block from the modular sofa and place it in a spare room for more privacy for guests. New sofa bed models, also by Swyft, are also a great way to turn your office into a guest bedroom while not compromising on comfort.
In terms of decorating, the top trends are handcrafted items like wooden mobiles, golden spray-painted pinecone centerpieces, Christmas crackers made with brown paper and finished with ribbon, and other muted craft items that can set a table off as truly special and the theme carries all the way through. Gold fairy lights, candles in colored glassware with hints of coppers and dark metallics can add a bit of shine to the otherwise rustic details. Green and white natural elements can help bring a more natural look to the home and give a fresh feeling to the theme overall. Adding some silver and gold textured items can help your table sparkle.
But don’t be afraid to pick an area to add a splash of color. Try replacing the traditional wreath with a brightly-colored ornament wreath or adding in a few more bright ornaments on your tree. Add in some garland or fur sprigs to your mantlepiece or opt for a little holly over a mirror, and change up your pillowcases to some that have a more festive feel to effortlessly change your home for the holidays. Sarah also recommended adding a scented candle that brightens the atmosphere, limiting the scents to one per room. A fresh pine candle goes very well with an artificial tree!
To finish, Carolyn McKeown from Shebang events introduced the four-day-long Tinseltown Christmas Village market in the Algarve, at the N’Ice Park ice skating rink area, where kids can decorate gingerbread men, stockings, and more while mom and dad shop for craft gifts and a chat with one of the 30+ vendors. The event is run in partnership with the Salvation Army to support the hungry during the Christmas season, you can bring a canned good to donate. The Salvation Army brass band will finish up the festivities on Sunday to mark the market closing. The market will open on Thursday, December 16, and run until Sunday. Thursday and Friday hours are from 17h - 20h, and Saturday and Sunday, the market will be open from 10 - 16h. Click here for more information!