Discover WOW, the mega-complex of museums dedicated to wine in Portugal

Visiting the cellars and tasting the wine that bears the name of the city is one of the main attractions for those visiting the city of Porto, in the north of Portugal. And this experience is now even more complete, with the opening of a complex of museums dedicated to the world of wine: a full glass for lovers and curious of the drink!

The World of Wine (WOW) was inaugurated in the midst of the pandemic in Vila Nova de Gaia, very close to the banks of the Douro River, and defines itself as a cultural and tourist block. There are seven museums, a wine school and 12 other bars and restaurants. Several with a beautiful view over Porto.

A space of 35 thousand square meters, designed inside ancient cellars, which, despite all the modern display and technology present in the museums, still retain part of their original structures. The investment, of over BRL 500 million, belongs to the Fladgate group, owner of Port wine brands such as Taylor’s, Croft, Fonseca and Krohn, as well as hotels such as The Yeatman and Infante Sagres.

Every night, the walls of the WOW terrace receive projections with music

I went to visit the museum complex in September this year and was quite surprised at what I found. A seemingly limited subject like cork, for example, gained rooms and more rooms, with a lot of interactivity and curiosity. There is also the fun chocolate museum, the fun and fantastic rose wine museum and, my favorite, the very comprehensive and super immersive wine museum.

WOW Museums

Below I tell you a little about the experience in each of the WOW museums, as well as the restaurants and bars. The idea is that we can help you decide which ones to visit when you travel to the Porto region. Also because you will have to choose… unless you have at least three full days to dedicate to this immense complex (which wouldn’t even be a bad idea).

1. The wine experience

The largest and most comprehensive WOW museum has (and it couldn’t be different) wine as a theme. And you will surely leave knowing the interesting details of the production process, from the influences of the soil and climate on the characteristics of the grapes, to the different personalities of the vines: which one suits you best? There you can take the test!

At the end of the immersive tour you will be able to travel to different wine regions of Portugal, with their landscapes and their architectural features, each represented by a beautiful house, where you can enter and get more information in text, images and videos. You can also test your sense of smell and, of course, taste Portuguese wines.

2. Planet cork

When I learned that I was about to visit a museum dedicated to cork, I figured it might be interesting, but a little limited: what could be said about the material of the cork oak bark? The answer, I learned as soon as I entered the museum, is: a lot! At Planeta Cortiça you can learn about the whole process of extracting cork from the tree (in fact 50% of the world’s cork comes from Portugal) and how it is processed until the corks are transformed into wines and sparkling wines. After all, cork and wine are excellent companions: it is what allows the drink to oxygenate after bottling, contributing to the evolution of wine and the expression of its organoleptic properties.

But it is not only for wine that cork is important. Its characteristics such as lightness, flexibility and impermeability make it a raw material for various sectors, ranging from space, to cinema, to design and fashion. And you’ll find out in fun and interactive ways as you stroll through the museum!

3. The history of chocolate

Do you know where chocolate comes from? Which are the major cocoa producing regions? Did you know that for many centuries, until the emergence of the hydraulic press, chocolate was consumed only in its liquid form? What was and is still used in rituals and medicine? And that it was used as a food supplement by soldiers during World War II, and its consumption only became popular after the first TV commercial in the 1950s?

A must for chocolate lovers, The Chocolate Story museum (which is also a real factory) shows the entire process of making the product from cocoa to its origins in Central America. It is possible to walk through a fruit plantation and a timeline that connects chocolate to history.

For those who want an even more extraordinary experience, at the end it is possible to have a guided tasting of different chocolates produced right there, super interesting to understand the characteristics of the cocoa of the most diverse regions.

4. Palazzo Rosa

There is no doubt that this is the most instagrammable museum in the whole WOW complex. The space dedicated to rosé wine is full of rooms in different shades of pink, where visitors are invited to give vent to their creativity. The result is fun photos in scenarios like a pink ball pool, a bottle of sparkling wine in which the cork is still flying, an upside-down room, a bathtub with a view of Porto and even a swing in the shape of a D bridge. Luís I. All this with good breaks to taste five different rosé wines and be inspired even more! 🤪

5. The Bridge Collection

The museum presents part of the personal collection of Adrian Bridge, general manager of WOW. In a very large space, more than two thousand glasses, bowls and containers from different eras are exhibited, the oldest examples of which date back to 7000 BC of history and also to learn about the curiosities about the entire ritual that provides for drinks for many thousands of years.

Especially in this WOW attraction, I believe the visit acquires a much more interesting perspective when guided. Unfortunately, it is not possible to schedule these tours accompanied by Bridge Collection employees, but here is a tip: before buying your ticket, stop at the museum and check with an employee the possibility of a guided tour.

6. The Porto region through the centuries

Not everyone knows it, but the city of Porto is also called the Invicta, due to its resistance at different moments in history, in the face of the invasions and sieges that settled around its territory. At the Porto Region Across The Ages museum it is precisely the history of Porto that is at the center, with its importance in the period of navigation, in the Industrial Revolution and even today, when it is considered the second capital of northern Portugal. The museum still talks about the Douro River, which has gold in its name, but its wealth lies in the life it generates, both on its banks and in the sea where it flows.

7. Museum of Fashion and Textiles in Porto

The different Portuguese lace and traditional filigree, a technique in which very fine silver or gold threads are woven by hand to form super detailed jewelry, would be reasons enough to create a museum dedicated to Portuguese fashion and textiles. But the Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum also brings the history of fashion to Portugal from the 1980s to the present, highlighting new designers in the country and the emphasis the industry continues to place on quality over sustainability.

Wine school

And to live an even more complete experience in the world of wine, how about taking a course at Escola do Vinho? There are four different courses: Introduction to Wine and Tasting, Wine and Chocolate, Portuguese Regions and International Grapes. They take place in a modern and welcoming space, last from one to two hours and cost from 30 to 45 euros.

There is also the possibility to participate in commented wine tastings, a good option for those who want to expand their ability to taste the most classic drink of Porto. To find out about all the courses and plan the activities, access the WOW Wine School website.

WOW Bars and Restaurants

Between one museum and another, it is clear that hunger will strike, or at least the need to rebalance any alcohol ingested in museums dedicated to wine. There is no shortage of restaurant and bar options at WOW. I met almost all of them and loved the Golden Catch, which specializes in seafood. Great option for warmer days, when you can enjoy fresher delicacies such as oysters, ceviche and tuna tartare, for example.

PIP is perhaps one of the quietest restaurants in WOW, with options for the whole family, such as great burgers, salads, and pizzas. I went for the burger and melted in praise. To accompany, a red wine sangria and the splendid view of the Douro River.

At T&C you can enjoy classics of Portuguese cuisine, including the francesinha, a typical Porto dish. 1828 has a menu full of high quality meats and with a beautiful view of Porto. There, I tasted the menu paired with Port wine – an excellent experience!

At Barão de Fladgate, the dishes mix tradition with contemporary techniques, local and sophisticated ingredients, such as caviar, fish roe, mousse and much more. All very delicious. There’s also Root & Vine, a vegetarian restaurant, and, for that late afternoon drink with an incredible landscape in front of you, Angel’s Share bar. See all the restaurants in the WOW complex here.

View of the Angel’s Share bar, with the Serra do Pilar Monastery and the D. Luís I Bridge in the background

Tickets for WOW

There is no cost to join WOW and visit its restaurants and public spaces. To visit the museums it is necessary to purchase tickets, which can be purchased individually, in combo or even for the whole family, with discounts on these last two options. Check the values:

TICKETS

The wine experience: 20 € adult / 9 € child * and 45 € family **
The Bridge Collection: € 20 adult / € 9 child and € 45 family
Planet cork: € 20 adult / € 9 child and € 45 family
The history of chocolate: € 20 adult / € 9 child and € 45 family
Porto region through the centuries: € 20 adult / € 9 child and € 45 family
Porto Fashion and Textile Museum: € 20 adult / € 9 child and € 45 family
Pink Palace: € 25 adult / € 9 child and € 55 family

COMBO (tickets valid for six months)

2 museums: 34 € adult, 15 € child and 72 € family
3 museums: 45 € adult, 18 € child and 95 € family
5 museums: 65 € adult, 27 € child and 135 € family

* children up to 13 years (up to 4 years free)
** two adults and two children up to 13 years

Click here to buy WOW tickets


Been to Il mondo del vino (WOW)? What do you think of the experience? Tell us in the comments!

Leave a Comment