God created only water but man made wine – Victor Hugo

Portuguese drink the most wine worldwide, on average 1 litre per person per week.
Although no major producer, export – mainly to France, Brazil and the US – reached record levels last year. ‘Domestic consumption also increased substantially, due to a booming tourism industry,’ declares Jorge Monteiro, president of ViniPortugal.

Portugal’s wine culture developed in relative isolation for more than 2000 years. Many grape varieties – there are over 250 indigenous ones – do not grow elsewhere in the world.

The most famous wines are Port – a fortified and sweet wine from the Douro Valley, nowadays a Unesco world heritage site, Vinho Verde – a unique white wine from the Minho area, Dão – a quality wine, shown to age very well from growing in high altitude areas and the typical blends from the Alentejo region.

But would you still buy a bottle of wine with a label ‘alcohol causes cancer’ on it?
The Irish government – equating alcohol with tobacco – has recently passed a law (the Irish Alcohol Bill), that such a warning should be put on every bottle of wine, every can of beer and every flask of whiskey. As with cigarettes.
This kind of labeling is a thorn in the eye of the Portuguese wine industry, who fears a similar action in the EU.

‘To state that wine causes cancer is simply untrue’, says Georg Sandeman, chairman of the Portuguese Wine and Spirits Association (ACIBEV). ‘Northern countries want to impose their culture on us. In the north of Europe, people use to drink a lot in short periods of time (‘binge drinking’) and often without food. Here, wine is part of our culture, our gastronomy. Of course, excessive use should be reduced but not moderate consumption.’

The WHO, already since the 90’s, claims that alcohol raises the risk of cancer of the throat, esophagus, liver, and breast. More recent research shows that even moderate consumption is not without risk of cancer and cognitive decline.
In addition, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns, that alcohol is the third leading risk factor for disease and death after tobacco and hypertension in Europe.

The best advice, therefore, is to stick to the American Cancer Society’s guidelines. ‘If you don’t drink, don’t start and if you do drink, limit your consumption to one drink a day for women (who need more time to metabolize alcohol) and two for men’.

                ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND              (pic SAPO)





‘When traveling from Amsterdam last Sunday, the incoming TAP flight was delayed by an hour. Although they had to change terminals, no information whatsoever was given to the passengers. On arrival in Lisbon, they had to remain seated in the plane for about 20 minutes, due to lack of transport to the main building. Once arrived at the assembly line, they had to wait another 45 minutes to get their suitcases and subsequently stood 30 minutes in the queue to catch a cab to the city center!’

With the vigorous rise in the number of flights to Lisbon over the past 10 years – and a subsequent increase in passengers from 13 to 27 million – complaints about Humberto Delgado Airport have doubled since 2015. Delays at departure, on arrival, at customs ( especially when arriving from a non-Schengen destination) and delays in communication. ‘TAP is always delayed’, you often hear from fellow passengers and water bottles have become standard equipment in the long waiting queues.

Lisbon Airport is congested and overcrowded, a victim of a booming tourism industry. Records are broken every year. On the 22nd of June, 680 flight movements – take-offs and landings – were reported, an all-time high. That same month, the airport had to cancel even more flights than Heathrow, that handles three times as many passengers per year.

Nevertheless, growth is skyrocketing and a further boost of 10 million passengers is expected over the next 5 years. The 75 years old airport certainly can’t cope, despite its clean appearance, tasty food, and nice shops.
To alleviate the constraints, the government seriously considers renovating a former military airbase in Montijo – across the Tagus – that could be made operational for civil aviation by 2022.

The ecological movement ZERO criticises the lack of transparency in the decision-making and fears the impact on the flora and fauna in the nearby Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve and noise pollution for the approximately 55.000 residents in the area. It demands a proper environmental evaluation, including alternative sites for the complementary airstrip. If the government doesn’t meet these requirements, the environmentalists will go to court and eventually proceed to the European Commission. The aviation lobby warns that further postponement will cost the treasury each year 600 million euros in revenues, from tourism alone.

Bom fim de semana                   Have a great weekend                 
(pic Público)





‘Only foreigners work here, he confesses. It’s hard work and poorly paid. Sixteen hours a day for the minimum wage. You keep going because they give you a contract, that is needed for a permit.’ Amit Kumar, originating from India is 32 years old and works since 2013 in Portugal. First in horticulture in the Algarve and after that in a restaurant in Belem. Although he is paying tax and social security, he runs the risk of being expelled as he can’t prove to have entered the country in a legal way. In 2017 he falls ill and has to be admitted to hospital for a week. Being unable to pay the bill, he asks his uncle in India for help. ‘I was supposed to support my family over there, not the other way around.’
When he returns to work, he discovers he is fired.

The ruling socialist party wants the government to speed up the legalization of undocumented immigrants, who have been working for more than a year and paid tax and social security. Even if they have entered the country illegally. The party invokes on Article 123 in the Aliens Act, which permits residency for foreigners on humanitarian grounds.

The reason for the amendment was the large-scale demonstration in May, when immigrants gathered before Parliament, expressing that they were treated like second-rank citizens, even though they paid tax and social insurance.

‘It concerns a group of approximately 30.000 people, who have work commitments but no rights whatsoever’, explains Flora Silva, president of the solidarity organization Olho Vivo ( ‘Most of them are from Lisbon but also from the Algarve, where many people from Nepal and Indonesia work in agriculture.

‘The law doesn’t promote the integration of immigrants, who work here for many years but are not treated as human beings’, says Timóteo Macedo, president of Solidaridade Imigrante (Solim). ‘Our Government argues, that we need more immigrants for our economy. Fine. They are already here, just come and see!’

Research by Solim in April showed that illegal immigrants pay on average 6 times more for a visit to the Emergency Department and 8 times more for a doctor’s consultation in Primary Health Care, than legal employees. ‘When undocumented workers pay their social security’, Macedo points out, ’there shouldn’t be any difference at all, isn’t it?’

Bom fim de semana            Enjoy the weekend                       (pic Público)