During dinner at my work-in-trade hosts house in Portugal she mentioned a place local people go to get food/drink. The specific one she was talking about is a bar like any other except the owner also has an unregulated, untaxed restaurant and ‘winery’ on site. A place called an adega. If you read my post about fortified wine you know I love to try homemade spirits so I kept asking questions about this adega until Janet offered to take me there the next day!
We arrived and walked up to the bar, no one was around. Janet walked to another door (there were several), knocked and called out. No answer. She walked into the restaurant and rattled the door. No answer. After nearly 5 minutes a nice woman came from the back (I think she was in the adega working!). She and Janet spoke in Portuguese for a few seconds. I don’t know exactly what they said but I got the gist: ‘I brought this American to try your wine’.
So we walked through the backdoor into a small triangle-shaped yard full of dogs then into the barn (winery). It was good-sized with piles of stuff all over that looked untouched for years. It seemed to mainly be used as storage except one end where several stainless steel tanks and a few very old oak barrels lined the wall. There were also at least 100 plastic jugs they use to sell the wine in, all the same size (about 4 gallons)….the only size sold. Cost: Four Euros. Yes, you read correctly….one Euro per gallon!
The worker cleaned out a jug for us and when nearly done filling it asked if we wanted a complimentary glass. Who could resist that offer? Not us, so we sat down at one of two tables and began drinking our wine as a few other friends came in. I say ‘friends’ and not customers because to buy food from the restaurant or wine from the adega you must be known (or invited by someone who is) to the house. Since the restaurant and adega aren’t strictly…legal, you won’t get served if you aren’t known. Strangers could be the policia! So we sat drinking our wine and before we finished the other friends bought us another round. There was no offer to buy us a drink, it just happened. I certainly didn’t know them and Janet had never met them either but she said this happens sometimes. This particular gentleman knew no stranger and talked with Janet for a few minutes, then after finding out I am from the United States tried to talk with me as well. His English was quite limited and my Portuguese even worse so I don’t know what the conversation was about but I could tell he was a nice, funny guy.
After downing the 2nd glass of this wine we said obrigado (thank you in Portuguese) and escaped before another round came.
If you’re wondering….the wine was drinkable but not great (hey, it was only 4 Euros) and we didn’t eat at the restaurant…..you have to call ahead and make a reservation! True story.