History by the Glass

Photo Illustration for TIME by Ian Evans; RUI CUNHA

CRUSH HOUR: Men tread grapes in a Douro valley port vineyard.

Raise a glass of sweet, velvety port in the evening, and all at once you're part of a time-honored tradition — because the port wine area in Portugal's Douro region is home to the world's oldest formal wine demarcation. In 1756, Prime Minister Marques de Pombal enacted this measure partly in hopes of reducing the power of British exporters who'd taken a liking to Portuguese wine when relations with France soured.

It failed on that score; British and Portuguese wine producers continued to flourish side by side. Their vineyards adjoined on the steep,...

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