Mateus: from candle to palace

May 16, 2016

MateusThis looks like any old European palace right?

But if you’re a Boomer, think again.

It’s the Portuguese palace depicted on this.

MateusMateus Palace.

Do you remember Mateus rose wine from your college days? In western New York we pronounced it MA-TOOZ. But it’s actually pronounced MA-TAY-US and it’s made in Portugal. The wine label made the palace famous.

Back in the 1960s, we college students would drink the wine, stick a candle in the top of the empty bottle and presto! A mood-setting candleholder by which to smoke weed. Which we called pot at the time.  Few knew that the wine label depicted a real palace. One that actually existed. But it exists, alright, in Portugal. And I was there last week.

I love a good palace tour and this one was no different. Part of the house is closed off as the family still uses it from time to time. But the public rooms were replete with beautiful antiques and artifacts of the Mateus family. No photos allowed, though.

MateusWindows overlooking the stunning gardens drew me to them, as often happens in grand old estates. My back straightened, my head lifted and I could almost hear my long skirts rustle and feel my gliding steps over the aged wooden floors to a window seat overlooking a dirt driveway that crossed the front of the palace. Settling my skirts into the window seat, I felt a great lady-of-the-manor calm settle over me as I sat, serenely looking out through the slight warp of the old glass.

I know I’ve sat in that window seat before –or one like it– looking out at the groomed formal garden.


It’s as if I’ve lived there before. Maybe I have: if not in this palace, in some other.  That’s what it seems like to me, anyway.

Have you ever had the feeling you’ve lived someplace else, in some other life? I’d love to know in the Comments.

35 comments on “Mateus: from candle to palace
  1. shari Eberts says:

    I love visiting old castles and palaces. I don’t know if I ever felt like I had lived in one, but I always think about what it would be like to have done so. The life seems so romantic, but I bet it was tough in its own way.

  2. Leanne says:

    I always think about how cold it would have been living in a lot of the European castles through their freezing winters with just a fireplace and several layers of clothes to keep you warm. They’re all beautiful to look at though – especially in the Summer!

  3. It’s that deja vu thing!!
    And my mom had these bottles and put the candles in them to drip down all the time!!

  4. Hi Carol! You’re back and I’m hoping you’ve had a lovely time. Portugal is on our list as potentials so I do want to chat with you soon about that. We are getting ready for a road trip starting Wednesday so I probably won’t squeeze it in before that but when we get back for sure. Meanwhile I need to read all your posts about Portugal as a start. And who knew about Ma-tooz! 🙂

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful trip. I have had Deja Vu, but never when I was touring a castle like structure. I would love to go to Portugal some day. The grounds look magnificent.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I grew up on that stuff! I thought it was classier that Ripple:) What a funny trip down memory lane I had, just seeing the bottle!

  7. Haralee says:

    Who knew it was a real place? Looks beautiful. I have never had the feeling that I lived somewhere before but I think about historic places about who walked on these stairs, who looked out these window, who smelled these flowers, who felt these breezes?

  8. I’m not sure I ever lived in a castle precisely because of the hygiene thing–I can’t imagine being without a flushing toilet and a hot shower. Or maybe I did live in one and that’s why I’m so adamant about my creature comforts in this life (?). And the Mateus bottle as candle holder–man, does THAT take me back!

  9. Barbara says:

    Mateus! omg, the first *ahem* good wine we ever had. lol! I had no idea it was a real palace. I’ve not been through a palace but have been through many of the mansions in Newport R.I.
    My fave was Beechwood Mansion, the summer home of The Mrs. Astor, which was what she made everyone call her.
    Unlike the other tours, you were greeted at the door like you were one of the invited guests. It was humorous and kitschy. Of course, my friend and I were wearing pants which set the butler off immediately! “The Mrs. Astor will not be pleased with your attire!” It was great fun.
    It was sold in 2010 to Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, for 10.5 million. No longer open to the public. boo.

  10. Rosemond says:



  11. I love castles and I haven’t thought or Mateus in YEARS! LOL! What a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing!

  12. GAry says:

    Welcome back, pretty funny back story on the castle. I thought you sixties ladies sat around your dorm rooms reading Shakespeare.

  13. Interesting question. I certainly feel an emotional pull when entering old places, but the closest I ever come to KNOWING I may have experienced a past life was in a dream that felt more like a memory. I’ve only dreamed it once but it rocked me to my core and it’s as fresh in my memory as if I dreamed it last night.

  14. Lori says:

    Old castles are great. You can almost hear the stories creep out of the walls.

  15. Carolann says:

    Wow that castle is stunning! I’m glad you see you had a fab time. I wish I could take a tour. It looks enchanting!

  16. sue says:

    Yes i remember the mateus wine and bottle from school days Carol! However the castle is stunning. I love visiting Europe which we do regularly as my husband was born in Italy. I remember seeing the Catherine Palace in St Petersburg just breath taking. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  17. What a beautiful and interesting place, I love the attention to details.

  18. barbara says:

    Oh yes. We definitely had the candle in the wine bottle going on.

    And isn’t that castle just grand. I wish you could have taken inside shots. I’m sure it was stupendous. I’m glad that places like this have been saved and are still around.

  19. Elizabeth O. says:

    The place looks fantastic. Who knew that that building served as an inspiration for a wine label. It’s great to be able to tour the place!

  20. Emily Ploch says:

    That is such a beautiful bottle, I would have to make it into a candle too! I have always been fascinated by castles and I want to see this one in person!

  21. Nicole Escat says:

    I am fascinated by castles. I would love to go and explore this beautiful palace.

  22. Nancy hill says:

    Mateus! Yes I remember. LOL. Had a Deja Vu experience in my 20s coming over a hill to the view the exact view of Toledo that El Greco painted. I felt as though I’d picnicked on that hill a 100 times.

  23. When I was about four, my mother claimed I told her I was the Dowager Empress of China. Mother evidently spent a lot of time, questioning my father and neighbors to see where I might have heard the name. It was during the same time when I had an imaginary playmate named Jerry. Who knows? Perhaps young children’s minds aren’t layered with skepticism and doubt and can more easily tune into things like that.

    • I absolutely agree. But then again, I am back in grad school learning Integrated Imagery (past life regression) so you might say I have a belief system that supports these ideas.

  24. I am enamored by Korea – the culture, food, tradition, their palaces and traditional houses – that I used to think I may have lived here in my past life. I am currently in Korea on vacation and I don’t want to leave the country just yet!

  25. Lisa Rios says:

    Mateus Palace looks so beautiful & stunning and that beautiful garden is so amazing as well for its greenery all over. I always love visiting such places that tells you more about the culture of people lived there so many years back.

  26. Aziel Morte says:

    Looks like you had an awesome trip, I love to visit that palace and I’m enjoying all the view

  27. Michelle F. says:

    Thse are some really great pictures. I love seeing or architecture an buildings like these.

  28. parpar de real says:

    What an awesome trip you had, I want to see that in person I am so amaze

  29. Brian Kessler says:

    Ah, Mateus! Just hearing that name and seeing that bottle brings me back to 1973/74 when I was fortunate enough to be a waiter at the finest dining establishment in Grand Forks, NDakota. (Yes, the Ramada Inn!) Their formal dining room had red flocked wallpaper, a grand piano and even a chandelier. Without question, it was absolutely THE place to be. Wine was ordered by the carafe but if you were a big spender you could order a bottle of wine and you had only 2 choices: Blue Nun or Mateus!
    Thanks, Carol, for sharing about your trip to Portugal and for bringing back a fun memory for me.

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