By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 08, 2022 at 11:02 AM

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the gorgeous architecture, delectable cuisine and truly outstanding wines of Portugal, Chef Kyle Knall of Birch, 459 E. Pleasant St., is hosting a one-of-a-kind opportunity to do just that.

In collaboration with Modern Adventure, Knall has assisted in curating a unique food-forward trip which will take place Sept. 2-8, 2023. This curated experience offers up to 30 guests exclusive access to explore the scenic Douro River Valley, sample Portugal's remarkable wines, dine al fresco at a 17th-century manor house and explore the fish markets, winding streets and breathtaking miradouros (look-out points). 

But that's not all. You’ll explore the best street foods and delve into memorable Portuguese wines right alongside Knall, a James Beard semi-finalist who has pushed local and seasonal food forward with an ever-changing menu that makes the most of farm fresh meats and produce using the magic and simplicity of hearth-fire cooking.

“I’ve always adored keeping ingredients in their pure form,” notes Knall, “Particularly seafood and vegetables. Being there on the coast and having so many fresh ingredients and exciting wines on hand is going to be really exciting. We’ll be able to head to the market together to gather seafood and produce and then gather together to cook and share a meal together.”

More information on the trip, as well as booking, is available online.

All of that said, even if you’re not quite ready to commit to a full trip to Portugal, you might just want to set aside a few hours next week to explore the amazing wines which are being produced there at the upcoming Portugal Wine Dinner at Birch on Sept. 15.

Portuguese wines
Portuguese wines (Photo: Birch)

Explore Portugal through wine

If you’ve not had the opportunity to experience a wine dinner at Birch, you’ll find their monthly wine dinners to be a refreshing alternative to the norm.

Rather than being seated with 30 or 40 other diners, you’ll simply make a reservation as you would normally. From there, the wine dinner is built out much like a tasting menu. You’ll enjoy guided courses, each of which is expertly paired with wine chosen by Knall and Birch’s talented Beverage Director Jeff Cleveland.

It’s a unique opportunity to learn about wines you’ve never tried before, ask as many questions as you like and even purchase additional bottles of wines that you particularly enjoyed.

The upcoming Portugal Wine Dinner will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15 and will feature an opening course of canapes followed by five courses, all of which are paired with unique Portuguese wines.

Cleveland will be on hand to chat about each of the wines, from the sparkling rose made with 100% baga grapes to a remarkably white that blew him away with a texture that resembles white burgundy.

He’ll also share stories about the approach to blending wines in Portugal, which often begins with planting a variety of different varietals together in the same vineyard. Attend and you’ll even taste an organic, biodynamic gem that blends 30 varieties of grapes.

“The wines coming out of Portugal are really really phenomenal,” notes Knall. “They pair really well with food and they’re just really versatile. We’re really fortunate to be able to bring so many of them here for this dinner.”

On the menu

  • Canapes | paired with Vadio Sparkling Rose
  • Steelhead trout crudo with husk cherries, Jerry’s melon and lemon verbena | paired with Pormenor Arinto Branco 
  • Grilled head-on shrimp with cucumber and tomatillo | paired with Pequenos Rebentos Vinho Verde Alvarinho 
  • Ember roasted walleye with Michigan peaches, cranberry beans and charred onions | paired with Dao Textura de Estrela Branco 
  • Farm egg spaghetti with Jimmy Nardello pepper sauce, Sungold tomatoes and Thai basil | paired with Muxagat Os Xistos Altos 
  • Slow roasted duroc pork with marinated cherries, avocado squash and habanada pepper | paired with Quinta do Javali, Cherry Vineyard Tinto 

Reservations for the dinner are $135 per person (includes courses and pairings) and can be made online with reservations available from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

You can also watch for future wine dinners at Birch. They generally take place about once a month. Upcoming dinners will include an intriguing visit from Erin Rassmussen of the American Wine Project on Nov. 9. Sign up for Birch’s mailing list or follow them on social media for details.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.