The last of our Funchal adventures brought us to doing something we're more than good at…drinking! I don't know how it happens, but in almost every city we've visited in Europe, we've found ourselves in a bar or at a winery, enjoying the fruits and brews of the local area. I'm far from complaining...just a funny observation of the kind of travel experiences we tend to gravitate towards. As the day was winding down Madeira, we made a stop at The Blandy Old Wine Lodge, one of Funchal's oldest wine making companies. A wine tradition of Madeira since 1811, Blandy's Wine Lodge is known for having 2 beautiful tasting rooms, a plethora of traditional Madeira wine, and wine-making areas on site.
Madeira wine is quite different from the wine D and I are used to drinking. They're all fortified, grown on the mountains of Madeira, tend to have strong flavors, and boast higher percentages of alcohol. Madeira produces a wide variety of wine styles from dry wines that are used as aperitifs to sweet wines to be consumed with desserts. They're also noted for having a unique wine making process, heating the wine up to temperatures as high as 140°F and deliberately exposing the wine to oxidation. Because of this process, Madeira wine is often robust and can endure long shelf life, even after being opened. During our visit, we were able to taste 2 different kinds of popular Madeira wine…one sweet and one medium-dry. While I'm usually a fan of almost any wine you put in front of me, D and I didn't fall in love with Madeira wine. The flavors were great, but the tiny samples we drank were potent. Very syrupy and very alcoholic (the two varieties we tried were 19% and 18% ABV). Would I still recommend taking the time to visit Blandy's and experience true Madeira wine? Absolutely! When in Portugal, right?
After our wine stop…we had a late lunch at a quite cafe in town (banana-covered black scabbard fish--a traditional Funchal dish--good, but strange) and then started making our way back to the ship. While walking, we stumbled upon Beerhouse Madeira, a brewery right on the bay with great views of the Funchal shore. The boys were itching to grab a pint in this idyllic setting, so we stopped in, had a glass, and took some photos around the brewery. Beerhouse Madeira was quite a lucky find. Come to find out, their in-house beers are brewed according to German Beer Purity Law and include no chemical products or preservatives…just water, hops, rye malt, and yeast. After the first few sips, we started to wish we'd had our late lunch there! Very tasty brews and gorgeous views to boot! Worth a stop, for sure. Well, that's all from Portugal! Next stop, Málaga, Spain!