Cruising the Duoro River

By Mary Jo:

I'm well down the road to insanity as I try to finish a book by mid-October, so I'm invoking Wenchly privilege to rerun an older blog with some editing where appropriate.  What I chose is this long ago 2006 blog describing a riverboat cruise along the Douro River into DSCN0824Spain.

I first read about riverboat cruising in a magazine several years ago, and promptly decided I wanted to give it a try.  I’ve done several ocean cruises, especially in the Caribbean, but rivers in Europe sounded different and fascinating.  The boats are much smaller, holding maybe 130 or so people, and the venues are fabulous. 

Much of European civilization developed along rivers, and traveling them would be a wonderful Douro_mapway of seeing Europe without a lot of packing and unpacking.  The boats park in the center of towns and cities, and one can seen a great deal of the countryside in peace and comfort.  The quintessential riverboat cruises follow the great rivers of northern and eastern Europe: the Rhine, the Elbe, the Danube, etc. 

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ClosMalvernePinotageReserveBy Mary Jo

Terroir has nothing to do with terror, horror movies, or upcoming Halloween.   Instead, terroir is a French word derived from Latin "terra" and French "terre" meaning the earth. 

Most often it's used to refer to the natural conditions of soil, sun, weather, climate, et al, that produce specific flavors in food and drink.   In other words, it's the agricultural version of "we are what we eat."   We all more or less know this even if we don't think about it much, but in wine cultivation, terroir is an important concept.  I might add that I am no wine specialist and my house wine is box pinot grigio, which is a perfectly good table wine.  

But the concept of terroir is interesting.  I started thinking about it when I was writing my most recent book, Once a Soldier.  My fictional San Gabriel is a small kingdom between Portugal and Spain and wine is its most significant product. and the only one that has the potential to bring in revenue through exports.  

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