When was the last time you enjoyed a glass of Port?
I've long been a vocal advocate of Port, and am also a Certified Wine Location Specialist, which concentrates on Port and Champagne. I wrote a four-part series exploring the history and origins of the Port region, and I have reviewed numerous Ports. At the wine store where I work, I have recommended different Ports of various customers. And for my advocacy and promotion of Port,I have received a great honor. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to whomever proposed me to receive this honor.
Confraria do Vinho do Porto, essentially making me a Knight in the Brotherhood of Port Wine. This was the first time the Confraria has been in Boston in about ten years, and they inducted 13 new Cavaleiros that night. Around the world, there are currently about 1300 Cavaleiros.
Though the genesis of the Confraria extends back to the 1940s, they were only able to unite in November 1982, after overcoming a number of bureaucratic impediments. The Confraria is now headquartered in the Palácio da Bolsa (the Stock Exchange) in the city of Oporto. They have chosen their patron to be the Infante Dom Henrique de Avis, Duke of Viseu, who is better known as Henry the Navigator. He sponsored numerous maritime explorations, including of the coast of Africa, and rediscovered the Madeira Islands and located the Azores.
As the Confraria states: "The indomitable character of this great Portuguese Prince, who inspired the most extraordinary maritime voyages, is reflected in the traditional values and characteristic quality of Port Wine." The primary objective of the Confraria is to communicate, promote and reinforce the knowledge, reputation and honor of Port wine.
There are also three ranks of honorary members, including Cancelário (Vice-Chancellor), Infanção (Nobleman) and Cavaleiro (Knight). The rank of Cancelário is given to Heads of State while Infanção is given to "notable people or institutions who make a significant contribution to the promotion and prestige of Port, of who otherwise merit distinction." The rank of Cavaleiro, which I received, is given to those who “have made a significant contribution to the understanding and prestige of Port Wine.”
Omni Parker House, Usually, the ceremony takes place in Portugal, though sometimes the Confraria travels to other parts of the world. Prior to their trip to Boston, they held ceremonies in New York and Washington, D.C. The members of the Confraria were garbed in ceremonial dress, including red capes, black hats with wide brims, and a wide, silk ribbon atop the hat which winds around their neck. The Chancelaria members wear white ribbons while the other members wear black ribbons.
After we were led into the room, we sat down, waiting for our name to be called to receive our honor. The Fiel das Usanças read out each name, mentioning their primary role, such as writer, sommelier or importer. My name was called out first, and I stepped forward atop the stage.
"For Port Wine
For The Confraria
For The Confrades."
George Sandemann. We had an interesting talk about Port, Portuguese table wines, and even whiskey.
After the ceremony, we had dinner, drinking a variety of Portuguese table wines and Ports, including more of the Niepoort Vintage 2005 Port as well as the superb Ramos Pinto Vintage 1983 Port. .It was an evening of stimulating conversation and excellent wines, I feel greatly honored to have been inducted as a Cavaleiro, and will do my best to live up its expectations, to protect the honor of Port wine.