Our first “influencer” – the Duke of Wellington

Some people say wine is in “the age of the influencer”. They’re more than a 100 years late. Wine influencers existed long before the age of Instagram and social media. And our first was The Duke of Wellington.

The wine lands north of Lisbon have exported wine for centuries. And particularly to Great Britain. We sent wine during the age of Queen Elizabeth and local wines are mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. But out biggest boost came around 1815.

The Duke of Wellington knew this region well from the Peninsular War (1807-1814). And he returned to London with a love for the wines he’d tried. Especially Arinto – our local white grape. In fact he returned with more than a love for it. He brought vast quantities of Arinto from north of Lisbon with him. 

Like today, Portugal’s native grape varieties were less well-known than other countries’ wines. So it became known as “Portuguese Hock”, because the wines it most closely resembled were the Hocks of Germany. (Made famous by another influencer, Queen Victoria).

Soon Portuguese Hock was the toast of the most fashionable city in the world. The favourite of its most famous military commander and eventually its Prime Minister. Deliveries were easy, given his address “No.1, London”.

Arinto is enjoying a revival today. Its beautiful citrus-lemon aromas suit fish and lighter dishes. And its freshness – even in the warm summers of Lisboa – make it a refreshing, bright aperitif. Our first influencer had excellent taste.