The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest – Ein Prosit zur Gemütlichkeit

Oktoberfest is one of the most famous events in the world… and by the way the world’s biggest fair on Munich’s Theresienwiese.  About 6 million people from all over the world attend the Oktoberfest.

Munich’s historic beer bash began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig (Neuschwanstein [the Disney Castle] – anybody?) in 1810.  The prince later turned into the Mad King, or if you ask my kids the “Nut” King, but don’t blame the beer!  This year is the 200th anniversary!  Since its beginning, Oktoberfest has been cancelled only 24 times due to war, diseases and other emergencies.

In 1880, electrical light illuminated over 400 booths and tents. (Albert Einstein helped install light bulbs in the Schottenhamel Tent (still exists) as an apprentice in his uncle’s electricity business.)  In 1881, booths started selling bratwursts. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.

Visitors eat huge amounts of hearty fare such as grilled Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roasted pork), Schweinshaxe (ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstel (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzen (chesse noodles with onions), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut & Blaukraut (red cabbage), along with other special Bavarian dishes like Obatzda (a spiced cheese & butter spread) & the famous Weisswurst (white sausage).  Hungry yet?

This all goes down well with beer!  And Oktoberfest is all about the beer.   About 7 million liters of beer (127,000 liters are non-alcoholic) & 80,000 liters of wine are consumed.  As the days begin to shorten, here are some good beer suggestions you could check out at Portalis:

Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

While not quite among the top ranks of German brews, it’s pretty gulpable, which, after all, is the whole point of Oktoberfest.  Slightly malty with notes of caramel & toffee. Light spicy, bitter hops on the finish.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock $5.50
This is like a Grimm Brothers fairy tale: raw, meaty, tempting & dangerous (goes down way too easy). Flavors of roasted malts, caramel, molasses & dark chocolate. Sweet & tangy with the right amount of bitterness. Magnificient!

Ayinger Jahrhundertbier $6.00
A Helles Lager from the same brewery. Made for the 100 year anniversary of the brewery. Bright, grassy, floral, grainy, with slightly hop bitterness. Dry, crisp finish. This classic Bavarian beer leaves you craving more.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen (Weissbier) $6.50
Hazy golden Hefeweizen fom Bavaria. Flavors of citrus, banana, bread & spices , with a hint of cinnamon. Light & refreshing! Bring on the Weisswurst.

Thirsty?  Slap on your Lederhosen or your Dirndl & polka at Portalis!

Jens (owner of Portalis & yes, a native German!)

“Do you serve food?”

Regularly (sometimes more than once a day!) someone will poke their head in the front door and ask (after looking at the food menu in the window):  Do you serve food?  Seeing as we’re approaching Chef Tracey’s 3rd year anniversary with us, I thought I’d let you see what she’s been up to:

FEATURED ENTRÉES so far in 2010:
SCALLOPS porcini rubbed with corn purée, asparagus & pancetta … paired with Weingut Hiedler 2008 Loess Grüner Veltliner:

GAME HEN with pomegranate molasses, apple coleslaw & roasted corn on the cob paired with Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Sangiovese  •  BLACK COD with chinese long beans, sesame seeds & honey soy glaze paired with Weingut Hiedler 2008 Loess Grüner Veltliner  •  PORK CHOP barbeque dry rubbed with succotash of long beans, corn & lima beans paired with Chateau du Rouët 2009 Rosé  •  RABBIT SAUSAGE with lima beans, grape tomatoes & Swiss chard paired with Hacienda Don Ramón 2006 Rioja:

DUCK BREAST with raspberry sauce, farro, mushroom, pistachio & wilted arugula … paired with Apolloni Vineyards 2007 Laurine Pinot Noir:

STURGEON with fava bean purée & preserved lemon vinaigrette … paired with Bodegas Nora 2009 Albariño  •  LEMON & THYME QUAIL with watercress, grape tomato & tarragon potato salad … paired with Claude Lafond 2007 Reuilly  •  CHUCK ROLL STEAK with peperonata & corn soufflé … paired with Poggio Salvi 2005 Rosso di Montalcino  •  PORK RACK CHOP with Asian succotash of edamame, long beans, sweet potato, baby red onion & soy ginger glaze … paired with Château du Rouët 2009 Rosé  •  SALT ROASTED SHRIMP with rice, sweet corn, scallion, crema, cotija cheese & avocado lime sauce … paired with Mud House 2009 Sauvignon Blanc  •  DUCK BREAST with cherry molasses glaze & arugula salad with cherries, pickled onion & pistachio … paired with Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes du Rhône  •  BBQ BEEF BRISKET with jicama cole slaw & a cheddar chive biscuit … paired with Four Vines 2007 Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel  •  COUNTRY FRIED GAME HEN with truffle potato salad, corn muffin & honey butter … paired with Walnut City 2006 Pinot Gris  •  POACHED COHO SALMON with wilted sweet pea vines & preserved lemon vinaigrette … paired with Château du Rouët 2009 Rosé  •  COUNTRY RIB with BBQ sauce and dill potato salad … paired with Four Vines 2007 Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel  •  NEW YORK STRIP* with scallion potato soufflé and green bean, mushroom, hazelnut salad … paired with Santa Rita 2007 Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon:

LAMB KABOB yogurt marinated with fattouch salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber & pita bread … paired with Pencarrow 2008 Pinot Noir:

SCALLOPS with cauliflower purée, coriander & lemon oil … paired with Lagar do Castelo 2008 Albariño  •  BAKED ORECCHIETTE with fennel sausage, ricotta, & broccoli rabe … paired with Chateau du Rouët 2009 Cuvée Réservée Tradition Rosé  •  LAMB MEATBALLS with currants, pine nuts & tagine sauce on minted couscous … paired with Julius Wasem 2005 Spaetburgunder Ingelheimer Sonnenhang  •  BAKED POLENTA with spinach, mascarpone & parmesan … paired with Leyda 2008 Pinot Noir  •  PORK SIRLOIN marinated in lemon & rosemary with grape tomato, arugula & fregola … paired with Château Lafont Menaut 2006 Pessac-Leognan:

CHICKEN & MUSHROOM ROULADE with cipollini onion risotto, pea & porcini jus … paired with Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Sangiovese  •  PACIFIC SNAPPER oven roasted with citrus brown butter and mâche, blood orange, pistachio & red quinoa salad … paired with Jermann 2007 Pinot Grigio  •  PASTICCIO of orecchiette with beef, tomato, parmesan & béchamel … paired with Carlin di Paolo 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore  •  SKATE WING oven roasted with citrus brown butter and mâche, blood orange, pistachio & red quinoa salad … paired with Jermann 2007 Pinot Grigio  •  PORK CHEEKS guiness stout braised with mashed potato, red cabbage & apple horseradish … paired with Four Vines 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel  •  DUNGENESS CRAB GOUGÈRE with white cheddar, scallion & cheese puff crust … paired with Casteller NV Cava  •  STEAK AU POIVRE with brandy mushroom sauce & spinach gratin … paired with Durigutti 2007 Malbec  •  TROUT ALMONDINE with roasted baby potatoes & green beans … paired with Château Lafont Menaut 2006 Pessac-Léognan  •  LAMB LOIN CHOPS with goat cheese polenta,braised mustard greens & lemon mint gremolata … paired with Buil & Giné 2006 17.XI Montsant  •  ROASTED SQUAB with maple hazelnut sweet potato gratin & shaved brussels sprouts with bacon lardons … paired with Pencarrow 2006 Pinot Noir  •  VEAL RIB CHOPS with roman gnocchi & marsala mushrooms … paired with Poeira 2006 Po de Póeira Douro Tinto  •  CABBAGE ROLLS with duck rillette, braised red cabbage, mashed potatoes & duck jus … paired with Buchegger 2008 Zweigelt  •  CASSOULET with confit pork & duck foie gras sausage … paired with Domaine Brusset 2007 Les Travers Cairanne  •  LAMB TAGINE with dates, honey & preserved lemon on minted couscous with currant & almonds … paired with Apolloni Vineyards 2007 Laurine Pinot Noir  •  CANNELLONI spinach, ricotta & veal with mornay sauce … paired with Jermann 2007 Pinot Grigio  •  VENISON LOIN with pickled huckleberries & black trumpet mushrooms, baby carrot, Brussels spout ragout … paired with William Church 2007 Bishop’s Blend  •  PORK LOIN with braised savoy cabbage, onion & apple, roasted fingerling potato & port wine reduction … paired with Weingut Hiedler 2008 Loess Grüner Veltliner  •  MANILA CLAMS with Spanish chorizo, garlic, butter & sherry … paired with Huyghe Delirium Tremens Belgian Blonde  •  DUCK CONFIT with sweet potato gnocchi & Swiss chard with brown butter & sage … paired with Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes-du-Rhône

And this is just the ENTRÉE menu…
We’ve still got the HOUSE FAVORITES including our tart, clams, house paté, market cheeses, soup, salad & more. And then there are her DESSERTS:

Mango ginger upside-down cake with homemade coconut icecream … Sticky toffee pudding with brandy whip cream … need I go on??

The next time you suggest meeting your friends at Portalis and one of them says: Do they serve food?  Say: Oh, yah they do!  And then let us show them our stuff! For delicious, wine-friendly, well-priced bistro fare … we’re setting the bar for wine (and food!) in Seattle! 

Hail to Chef Tracey!

Julie, Jens & the Portalis gang

The Family Behind Tenuta Vitanza (Montalcino, Tuscany)

This (sold out) tasting was truly a family event. Rosalba Vitanza, her husband Guido Andretta & their 11-year old daughter came through Seattle & brought some Tuscan flair to Portalis.

While vacationing in the early 90’s, Rosalba Vitanza, who has a doctorate in philosophy and was teaching at the University of Rome & her husband, Guido Andretta, an aeronautical engineer, fell in love with Montalcino & Tuscany. They decided to purchase an old country house, built around 1600, on the outskirts of the Montalcino appellation, and start a solar powered winery to produce organic wines.

In 1998 they purchased more land & vineyards, ending up with 40 hectares of land & 16 hectares of vineyards. Rosalba Vitanza started making wine learning by doing. Clearly she has a knack as she has developed into one of the region’s top Brunello winemakers.  They shared the magic of their wines with us when then joined us in June for a tasting, introducing our guests to the following delightful, classic Tuscan lineup:

Tenuta Vitanza 2007 Vitanza $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Sangiovese Tuscan IGT, 8 month fermented in stainless steel tanks. Your Tuscan table wine if you want. Intense bouquet of red cherries. Smooth, medium-bodied, fine acidity, with dark cherry fruit & herbal components.

Tenuta Vitanza 2006 Chianti Colli Senesi $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
100% Sangiovese from the hills of Siena. Aged 4 month in Slovenian oak. Aromas of fresh picked cherries. Medium-bodied, with beautiful acidity on the mid-palate. Lot’s of ripe black cherries & red cherries. Smooth tannins on the finish.

Tenuta Vitanza 2005 Rosso Di Montalcino $24.99 | Sale $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
100% Sangiovese Grosso, aged 6 month in French oak. Beautiful aromas of ripe black cherries & some wood. Smooth, medium-bodied, well-balanced, with good acidity & depth. Lot’s of black cherry fruit building up on the round palate. Long, elegant finish.

 Tenuta Vitanza 2004 Quadrimendo $37.99 | Sale $34.99 | Mixed Case $27.99
IGT Toscana Supertuscan. A blend of 50% Sangiovese & 50% Merlot. Intense aromas of blackberries, black cherries & black pepper. Powerful but smooth, with elegant dark fruit & spicy components. Smooth tannins on the long lasting finish.

Tenuta Vitanza 2004 Brunello Di Montalcino Tradition $44.99 | Sale $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
100% estate Sangiovese Grosso, aged 3 years in Slovenian oak barrels. Intense bouquet of black cherries, leather & dark coffee. Medium- to full-bodied, elegant, with superb acidity. Beautiful dark fruit layers building up on the mid-palate. Lots of dark cherries, leather, with some spicy & herbal notes. Smooth finish.

Tenuta Vitanza 2004 Brunello Di Montalcino $62.99 | Sale $57.99 | Mixed Case $46.39
100% estate Sangiovese Grosso, aged 30% in French oak, 70% in large Slovenian oak barrels. Again, intense bouquet of dark cherries, blackberries, mocha & coffee. Strong, powerful, but well-balanced. Lot’s of dark fruit, dark chocolate, with herbal & spicy components. Long, strong, powerful finish.

We hope to see them again soon, in Seattle would be lovely … but in Tuscany would be even better!  If you are interested in ordering any of these wines, give us a call at 206-783-2007 or email