A dear friend Francoise asked me the above, so here we go with an answer…. Since sweet port is made from partial fermentation, to save the residual sugar that comes from our grapes, the maceration that puts the juice in contact with the grape’s skin (that obtain flavor, tannins and color) is reduced to 3 or 4 days. In this short lapse of time we need to extract as much as we can from the skin. This is why we foot tread. The foot treading is very soft, like a massage for the grapes; 4 hours a day with an equivalent of 1 worker per 650 kgs/1430 lbs of grapes in an open tank called a lagare. The feet of the workers are obviously clean and disinfected, no need to worry! Foot treading disintegrates gently all the skin and liberates all the above mentioned components of the skin. During foot treading the foot activity does not extract only from the grape’s skin, but also from the matured brown grape pits, by rolling under the feet, that liberates a very thin skin around the pits, called by my husband “pellicule”, that is very rich in aromas and soft tannins.
- Get the beat
- Disco line dancing
Mechanical foot treading, on the other hand, if not properly adjusted, which is often the case, will aggressively break the pits, releasing the pit’s oil and green vegetable-like drying astringency, that will be bad for the port’s flavor. Today none of the mechanical foot treaders can do a better job than what has been used for centuries; workers treading back and forth, sometimes to the accompaniment of an accordionist, sometimes playing games and taking a swig of port from a big carafe to pass the time away, and during this time gently extracting the components that make a world class port, as is the case at Quinta do Tedo. Not only is our prestigious Vintage made this way, but all of our ports, due to the small dimension of our quinta and thanks to the number of workers and visitors that volunteer to foot tread. If you have never tried, it is an unforgettable good time, let us know if you would like to come for a harvest and help out!
- Somewhat serious
- Let's Party!