This is a tale of how we fell under the charms of the City of Porto, and how we found our way to one of the best wine shops in Porto, Garrafeira do Carmo.
In 2015 after thirty-five days of walking the Camino de Santiago we found ourselves with seven days, in which to amuse ourselves, before we had to be in Aix en Provence, France. We looked at the map and realized how close we were to Porto, Portugal. Although it would be Abi’s second visit to the city, it was my first. Two days after walking in to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, we boarded a train for Porto. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Ultimate Wine Lovers Destination
For anyone who loves Port Wine, Porto, is the ultimate wine lovers destination. We had five days, back in 2015, to explore the city and that’s how long it took for us to fall under its charm. During those five days we discovered a quaint and cozy wine shop, Garrafeira do Carmo. The ambiance of the shop makes one feel as if it has been a favorite among the locals and tourists alike for generations, although it was actually established in 1990.
The shop, founded by Agostinho Sousa Pereira, was born out of his desire to have a specialized space for Port Wine and DOC wines produced in Portugal, as well as liqueurs and spirits. And, at the same time the shop was where Agostinho would be able to have direct contact with his customers and where experiences could be garnered through long years of traditional trade.
Finding Garrafeira do Carmo & Meeting Jorge
As soon as we crossed the threshold into Garrafeira do Carmo on that fateful day in 2015, Abi was hooked. And, it was on that same visit we met Jorge, whose job it is to expedite online orders and to work with the budgets. More importantly, because Jorge speaks several languages, he is the epitome of customer service when it comes to sharing his vast wealth of Port Wine knowledge, especially with foreign customers. It is his genuine warmth and kindness that keeps customers returning. His charms definitely worked on us.
While living in Porto for three months in 2017, we often visited Garrafeira do Carmo to not only purchase wine, but so that Abi could engage in his favorite topic of conversation, Port Wine. Abi and Jorge could chat it up as long as time allowed and/or until my eyes glazed over at which time I would take to exploring the nearby streets.
Before leaving Porto, near the end of December (2017), we stopped in for one last visit with Jorge. It was during that visit we introduced him to One Road at a Time and invited him to share the story of Garrafeira do Carmo and his knowledge of Port Wine. So, without further ado, I’d like to share with you just one of our many conversations with Jorge.
One Road: How did you glean your knowledge of Port Wine?
Jorge: I studied and took a short course. I also regularly visited the vineyards and talked to the winemakers, but mainly, I learned from tasting, tasting and tasting, that’s the most important.
One Road: What are your top three favorite port wine cellars?
Jorge: It’s hard for to me to say which three Port Wine cellars are my favorite, because luckily, I think we have very good ones, many more than just three favorite. But if I have to choose three, I choose Graham’s, Quinta do Noval and a small producer called DR .
One Road: Approximately, how many brands of Port Wine (i.e. Taylor, Fonseca, Barros, etc.) do you carry and how many bottles do you have in stock?
Jorge: Well, approximately, according to my numbers we have 35 brands of Port Wine and we have more than 5,000 bottles in stock.
One Road: What is the oldest vintage port wine you have in stock and what is the price of the most expensive bottle you have?
Jorge: The oldest vintage port we have in stock is Offley Vintage from 1900. The Offley is also the most expensive at €3,995.
It’s All About the Tasting
Of course one of the best aspects of visiting Porto and the Port Wine cellars is the tasting. When paired with a beautiful view of the Douro River – on the Gaia side – and a few bites of chocolate, an hour or two of Port Wine tasting makes for a lovely afternoon. Just make sure you eat first, trust me on this.
We know firsthand that on any given day in Garrafeira do Carmo, they offer about 15 different bottles for tasting. They offer samples from young white wines (sweet or dry), to pink, or a young Ruby and Tawny to a 30 year-old Tawny. The founder is also working to develop a more intimate tasting room upstairs above the store.
We asked Jorge why Garrafeira do Carmo stands out from other similar stores and he believes there are four main reasons. Those reasons are knowledge, honesty, competitive prices and concern for all customers. Also, it’s the quality of the store’s inventory, and the deep knowledge of the products, that are essential to making the store a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
In 2015 we arranged to have Jorge ship a case of wine to the US for us. It was an easy process and we had hoped to do the same while living in Porto last year. Unfortunately, under the current US administration, it has become more challenging, but it can be done. However, they do easily ship to all countries in the European community. Most often the customer will contact the store via email with their list of desired wines. The staff will process the order, send the shipping and payment fees, and once received the wine is shipped.
One Road: Have you seen a rise in tourism in the City of Porto in recent years, and has that rise in tourism had a positive impact on the store?
Jorge: Yes, in the last 4 or 5 years, tourism to Porto has increased exponentially, which has led to an increase in our customer base. Visitors to the city find us through the various digital platforms and tourist guides. The foreign customers are looking for a specialized store to buy their wine. In turn, this allows greater access to the wines of small producers, of great quality, that otherwise would be impossible to discover, since many of them are not exported.
Do Yourself a Great Service
Living in Porto for three months gave us the gift of time to explore the city in depth. And, although we spent just about every day (unless it was raining) wandering every nook and cranny of the city, we always made our way back to Garrafeira do Carmo, one of our favorite spots in Porto. I’m certain when the time comes that we once again find ourselves in Porto, Jorge and Abi will pick up their conversation right where they left off. And, if you find yourself in Porto, please, do yourself a great service and visit Garrafeira do Carmo and say hello to Jorge from us.
If You Go:
Rua do Carmo, 17-18
4050-164 Porto – Portugal
Tel.: +351 222 003 285
Garrafeira do Carmo also carries a selection of liquors, whiskeys, vodkas, etc.
Monday to Friday
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. / 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and holidays