Accidental Discovery: Port Wine

Posted in: Travel | (Français) le11 August 2012

Porto is a very charming city along the Douro river estuary, north of Portugal. Being one of the oldest European centers, it has beautiful monuments dating back many centuries and it’s considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Porto city is famous for its port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto or simply Porto, which is a sweet red wine (also comes in white) often served as an apéritif. If you are visiting the city, do cross the Dom Luis bridge offering a spectacular view on the river and spend some time port-wine tasting at one of the finest port distilleries in the world.


Today, port wine is a € 400 million industry. However, it all started by accident. Around the 14th century, Portuguese red table wine was being exported to England. The Portuguese wine was very coarse, so they decided to add some brandy to preserve the wine during transportation. Once the wine reached England three months later, it tasted much better than what was being shipped from Portugal!


They realized that instead of preserving the red wine, the brandy killed the fermenting bacteria and sweetened the wine.  Well, that’s how port wine was discovered, by accident.


Many discoveries and inventions happens by accident or mistake. A mistake is normally something that shouldn’t have been done. Why? Because we are expected to do things according to norms and standards. We are not supposed to deviate from norms. If we do, then it’s a mistake we need to correct.


Creativity is exactly the contrary of following norms and standards. Creativity is about making mistakes. In fact, there are no such things as ‘mistakes’ in the creative process; there are only different ways of doing things. Same as in art, there are no ‘mistakes,’ only different forms of artistic expression.


We should not be afraid of our mistakes. The moment we are afraid, we limit our chances of exploring new creative avenues. If our mistake does not lead to anything creative this time, at least we can learn from it. Next time we’ll know which steps to avoid to be closer to our goal.


As Thomas Edison would say: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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