On Sunday I went for a long walk in Lisbon. After a week mainly devoted to heavy rain the sun had finally come out of Saturday and it continued sunny into Sunday, so I had to take advantage of the sunshine.
Although I had a rough idea of the route I would follow I left myself free to go where seemed interesting. This is how I came across the Tapada das Necessidades, a little known park close to the centre of Lisbon. I don’t normally inflict my walking itineraries of readers of Les 5 du Vin. However, I only discovered on my return from my walk that Tapada das Necessidades apparently has an intriguing connection with one of France’s most famous paintings: Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet. The Portuguese version of Wikipedia claims that one of the inspirations for Le Déjeuner was a visit Manet paid here in 1859. It has to be said that this claim has not found it way into either the French or English versions on Wikipedia.
No matter – one of the things that intrigues me about Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe is both the marked absence of a substantial picnic and the lack of wine. In the panier and beside it, close to the naked woman, are a few bread rolls and some fruit including five cherries. Beyond the panier under the tree there appear to be some pies. Is the picnic already over with the woman in the background washing up the dishes? Is her naked friend starting to play footsie with the gent in the cap? Would the follow-on have been entitled Le romp sur l’herbe?
Or is the picnic yet to start and is the woman in the pool checking to see if the bottle of Portuguese wine has cooled sufficiently to serve? Is it white or rosé – even a white Port? We will have to come up to date here as even Mateus Rosé, better made than it is often given credit for, was only created in 1942. My choice for the foursome whether they are minded to picnic, romp or do both would be a Vinho Verde Alvarinho with a little bottle age to give it increased complexity and weight.
The other day in a restaurant in Sintra we drank an excellent bottle of 2008 Alvarinho from Palacio Da Brejoeira. It would be ideal for Manet’s Portuguese picnic.