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A Sip in Time: Interview with Portugese Sommelier Teresa Gomes
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A Sip in Time: Interview with Portugese Sommelier Teresa Gomes

A Glass of Wine with Teresa Gomes

Join us as we sit down with Teresa Gomes, a passionate Portuguese woman with an intriguing journey through the world of wines. While her initial encounter with a Professional Bar Training Course in 1993 might not have sparked her love for wine, Teresa's story took an unexpected turn, leading her to become a renowned expert in the field.

Since completing the Sommelier Course in 2001 and various specialized wine courses in Portugal and the United States, Teresa has inspired over 17,000 individuals to become Portuguese wine aficionados. As the owner of The Wine Flat Lisbon, an intimate space dedicated to exploring the wonders of Portuguese wines, she has created a sought-after experience in the heart of Lisbon.

Recognized for her expertise, Teresa was honoured with the prestigious Sommelier of the Year Award in 2017 by Vinho Grandes Escolhas magazine and inaugurated into the exclusive Confraria do Vinho do Porto. Now, she is offering online wine courses in English.

Don't miss the opportunity to delve into the rich world of Portuguese wines with Teresa Gomes!

 

Teresa Gomes, photo by Phelipe Paraense

 

Hello, Teresa! It's a pleasure having you here with us.

 

How did you get started in the wine industry, and what drove you to become a sommelier?

After graduating high school, I enrolled in a professional bartending course to enter the workforce swiftly. The local hotel and tourism school had recently reopened with expanded facilities and a broader range of programs, boasting a high employability rate. 1993, I opted for the one-year bar course instead of the typical three-year program.

Four years later, an opportunity presented itself when the owner of a specialized Port Wine shop invited me to assist in opening a wine bar. On August 1st, 1997, we inaugurated the establishment.

Within a few months, I also began working at the wine shop. Interacting with wine enthusiasts from around the globe sparked my curiosity and ignited a desire to deepen my knowledge of wine. Seizing the first opportunity available, I pursued Sommelier certification at the same school where my journey had begun seven years prior.

Subsequently, I had the privilege of teaching the third and fourth editions of the Sommelier course in 2003 and 2004. During this time, I discovered my true life purpose—to be a wine educator.

 

What aspect of your job gives you more satisfaction?

I am very satisfied with my job, whether leading a wine tasting for a large or small audience, crafting engaging social media content or sharing knowledge about Portuguese wine with professionals or enthusiasts.

However, what truly brings me satisfaction is encountering individuals who express that they have entered the wine industry because my journey inspired them. Similarly, receiving heartfelt congratulations from wine consumers for helping them navigate the intricacies of the wine world in a more accessible manner is deeply rewarding to me.

 

Are there any common misconceptions about wine that you would like to correct?

There are indeed various misconceptions surrounding wine, including recent ones such as the notions of mineral or natural wines.
Nevertheless, as a Portuguese, I would like to address a common misunderstanding that persists among many Portuguese people regarding Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde, which directly translates to “green wine,” is not a specific type of wine. Instead, it refers to a Portuguese geographical indication or appellation. Similar to other well-known Portuguese wine regions like Douro, Bairrada, or Alentejo.

Vinho Verde designates a specific area of origin situated in the northwest region of Portugal. Vinho Verde is known for producing predominantly white wines and rosé, red, and sparkling wines.

Wine lovers may be familiar with a style of white wine from this region that is usually light, refreshing, low in alcohol, high in acidity, with exuberant aromas, sometimes leaving a slight sweetness on the palate.

Still, it's important to note that producers in the Vinho Verde region also make white wines that deviate from these characteristics. While they still exhibit notable acidity, they possess more attitude, higher alcohol content, complexity, and a dry finish. In fact, they have ageing potential similar to some of the best white wines in the world.

To summarize, Vinho Verde refers to the geographical origin of the wine and does not inherently define the specific characteristics of the wine itself.

 

Could you share a professional tip for wine serving or pairing with our readers?

Of course! During summer, paying attention to the temperature at which you enjoy your wine becomes crucial. I recommend placing all wines in the refrigerator the day before serving to simplify matters.

Sommeliers often have temperature-controlled wine cellars at the workplace. However, I will share some practical tips you can easily implement at home. The only item you need to acquire is a wine thermometer.

Remember that red wines provide the most pleasure when consumed at a temperature above 18 °C. On a hot day, if you plan to enjoy an unoaked red, a serving temperature of around 15°C is ideal. Take the bottle from the fridge approximately ten to fifteen minutes before the meal. Alternatively, you can use an ice bucket if you forgot to chill it beforehand.

It's important to note that temperatures below 5 °C can numb our taste buds. Household refrigerators typically operate around 2-3 °C. You might discover you've been consuming white and rosé wines at frigid temperatures. Optimal serving temperatures for these wines in summer are around 7 °C, or 10 °C if they are aged in oak.

From my experience, using a freezer to rapidly cool wines in an emergency is not ideal, as it can compromise their aroma and taste.

Temperature greatly impacts our perception of a wine's quality. In numerous instances, wine producers provide guidance regarding the recommended serving temperature on the back label. Alternatively, don't hesitate to ask for advice when purchasing wine.

 

Wine Recommendations by Teresa Gomes

 

We had an opportunity to ask Teresa about her favourite white, rosé and red wines and her choice of bubbles.

 

Teresa Gomes, photo by Phelipe Paraense

White Wines

What are your five favourite white wines for summer, and what would you serve them with?

During the hot summer days in Portugal, the meals are predominantly centred around grilled fish, shellfish, seafood, and occasionally white meat. As a classic post-beach treat, many opt for the choice of takeaway roast chicken. And when it comes to family get-togethers, a barbecue featuring pork and sausages takes the spotlight.

To complement these dishes, I always ensure to have a selection of white wines readily available at home during the summer. These wines should have a youthful character, boasting refreshing acidity, a medium-bodied profile, and, some, a short oak ageing.

For this particular summer, my preferred choices for wine are as follows:


Rosé Wines

What are the five favourite rosé wines, and what dishes would you pair them with?

I love rosé wine and I don’t understand why they are so underrated. Rosé wines indeed offer a delightful combination of the crisp acidity found in white wines and the tannins typically associated with red wines, making them a perfect choice for summer days.

Here are the last five rosé wines that left me amazed:

One interesting rosé style worth mentioning is Palhete, which employs ancestral winemaking techniques and has recently gained popularity. Palhete wines result from the co-fermentation of white and red grapes.

Regarding food pairings, dry rosé wines can be wonderfully versatile and complement a wide range of vegetarian dishes. They are also easy to pair when enjoying a variety of dishes at the table, which we call “petiscos” in Portugal.

Personally, I always go for rosé wine to accompany grilled sardines, a delightful combination.

When it comes to slightly sweeter rosés, I find they pair exceptionally well with spicy dishes.

 


 

Red Wines

Could you share your favourite red wines that are suitable for a colder evening? Why are these your choices?

Yes, I can. If the night is colder, I believe anyone will enjoy a smoother, full-bodied wine, whether it’s summer or winter.
If the preference leans towards red wine, choosing wines from hot regions or those with higher alcohol content can provide the sensations I mentioned.

Portuguese wine enthusiasts are fond of wines from the Alentejo and Douro regions. My preferences now go for these wines from recent wine projects: Natus (Alentejo) and Firmamento (Douro).

However, if I am seeking wines with more structure and tannins, I would explore the wines from the Bairrada region. For example, The Baga grape variety produces wines embodying these characteristics, such as the wine Giz Vinhas Velhas.

Considering a cooler summer night, wines from the Lisboa or Palmela regions would be an excellent choice. Red wines from these regions tend to be more moderate regarding body, boldness, and alcohol content.

The influence of Atlantic Ocean winds, the soil, the presence of indigenous red grape varieties, and typically generous harvests all contribute to making the red wines from these regions perfect for summer. My favorites are Pirata (Lisboa) and Vale de Touros Vinhas Velhas Reserva (Palmela).

 


Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

Could you recommend five of your favourite champagnes for memorable moments?

This is a challenging question due to certain facts. First, it has become difficult to find high-quality Champagne in Portugal over the past two years. On a positive note, Portugal has been experiencing a remarkable increase in producing exceptional sparkling wines, which is truly exciting. Additionally, I have developed a particular fondness for Pet Nat wines.

Given these circumstances, please allow me to share what could be my sparkling wine list for a memorable moment, such as my 50th birthday later this year. (Happy Birthday, Teresa!)

 


 

Thank you very much, Teresa, for your time and those carefully selected recommendations!

Website Teresa Gomes

 

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