A huge advantage of self-catering holidays is that you can get a real taste of local culinary offerings. And this is just as true with local drinks as local cuisine. Take a trip to a nearby shop or market and see what delicious tipples you can find to bring back to your villa. After dinner, sip wine on the balcony, or lounge in the evening sun with a chilled beer.
Portugal is a world-famous wine destination, but oenophiles aren’t the only visitors who will love the drinks on offer here. From spirits to beers, you’ll come across a wide range of beverages in the Algarve, and without an expensive hotel menu to limit you, you can try them all. Here are some you have to sample:
Wine in the Algarve
The climate on Portugal’s southern coast is ideal for grape growing and winemaking. The regions of Lagoa, Portimão, Lagos and Tavira are particularly renowned for their wine. Wine production here also dates back to the days of ancient civilisations like the Greeks and Phoenicians, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect the process!
Quinta do Morgado da Torre in Portimão is among the region’s oldest vineyards, and the fruity whites and reds here are made from hand harvested grapes. For a fun day out, treat yourself to a tour, tasting, then purchase a few bottles in the shop to bring home to your holiday villa.
First produced in the 19th century, Macieira is a fruity brandy with a long history in Portugal. Today, it remains one of the nation’s most popular drinks. It is also sold worldwide, but for the best experience, you should drink it in its home place.
This brandy is golden brown in colour with light, fragrant flavours. You can enjoy it on its own, with ice, or mixed with soda water or soft drinks, so it’s a versatile drink that can be tailored to suit every palate.
Aguardente de Medronhos
This strong spirit is also known as ‘fire water,’ as a result of the hot sensation you feel when you swallow it. Distilled from the strawberry-like fruits of the Medronho tree, Aguardente de Medronhos offers a true taste of Portuguese tradition. It is hand produced by farmers in rural areas, so for the most authentic flavours, purchase a bottle directly from the producer – you might find some at a market stall.
Some locals drink Aguardente de Medronhos with breakfast to wake them up, so if you fancy starting your day the Portuguese way, you could give it a go. Otherwise, enjoy sipping this fiery beverage after a meal. If you think you’d prefer something a bit gentler, try mixing it with honey to make a drink called Melosa.
Beer in the Algarve
You won’t find any better location than the sunny Algarve to sample Portuguese beers. There are three main national brands to look out for. The first, Sagres, is a pale lager which is dry and refreshing to drink. Super Bock is another lager. It’s a Portuguese classic, and among the country’s favourite beer brands.
The third national brand is Cristal Pilsner, a light, fruity, easy to drink beer that is perfect for any occasion. If you want a taste of home while you’re abroad, you’ll also find lots of familiar international beer brands on sale in supermarkets.
By Shaun Fraser, a former drinks rep, who now focuses on writing about his favourite tipples from Europe and beyond. He credits his good nose to a previous life as a sommelier.