As Portugal has become the new “it” destination, is it any wonder interest in Portuguese wines is on the rise?
As the days get longer and the temperatures climb their way toward spring and summer, crisp and refreshing Vinho Verde is at the top of our list. Here are seven reasons why this delicious libation from Portugal should be in your fridge and on your table.
1. Vinho Verde is Refreshing
This light, young, dry, fruity white wine is citric and refreshing, a perfect quencher on a warm evening, nice as an aperitif or a toast. It is made from a blend of grapes that give it the crisp, bright flavor that has made it increasingly popular in the US. Grape varietals include Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, Avesso, and Azal. Vinho Alvarinho is made from Alvarinho grapes, from small designated subregions of Melgaço and Monção.
2. Vinho Verde is Perfectly Portuguese
Is it called green wine because it is young or because of the lush, verdant hillsides where it is grown? It is cultivated in a region that extends from the northern border to the seaside, encompassing the Minho and Douro river valleys, one of the country’s most beautiful regions. (The Douro Valley is not too far from Untours’ homebase in Porto and is also accessible on a Douro River cruise.) Wine is part of the local DNA. Though not widely known as winemakers, the Portuguese have been cultivating grapes and making wine since before ancient Roman times.
3. Vinho Verde is Lower in Alcohol
The wine’s alcohol level is fairly low, compared to other wines. Vinho Verde normally comes in around 11% alcohol, so you will be able to reach for a second glass. Its light body and reasonably low kick make it a favorite for lunchtime or happy hour, though it will do well alongside a fuller meal.
4. Vinho Verde is Food Friendly
Speaking of food, Vinho Verde pairs perfectly with seafood and chicken. Its acidity goes quite well with fried foods and cuts through rich and creamy sauces. The wine is excellent alongside a salad, or you can pair it with traditional Portuguese dishes like cod or grilled fish for some flavor magic. Like its wine, Portugal’s cuisine has been underrated and undervalued. You can eat and drink very well, and affordably, in Portugal!
5. Vinho Verde is Cheap
Or rather, it is a good value. In the US, you will pay $10-16 a bottle, making Vinho Verde an excellent value for its quality. (It’s even cheaper on the ground in Portugal!) If you take it up to $20 you can even find organic and single-varietal versions that have a more sophisticated taste profile and will stand up to aging. You will have to visit Portugal to try some of the best ones.
6. Vinho Verde Offers Variety
Many people know Vinho Verde as a slightly effervescent wine. These days, big producers add CO2 to give it a little fizz, but you can find still versions as well. Many wine drinkers prefer the flavor nuances they can better detect in the unbubbly versions. Rose Vinho Verde has become more popular and widely available, a nice variation on a theme. And a red version also exists, though you’ll likely have to travel to Portugal to find it.
7. Vinho Verde Makes You Want to Travel
To find the best prices, the widest varieties, the smaller makers, the rarer variations, and the red version, you will need to go to the source and book a trip to Portugal! There you can pair various Vinho Verdes with the traditional dishes they best complement. You can also visit the vineyards.
Taste the full range of Vinho Verde on a trip to Portugal. All of its varieties are widely available, whether you base yourself in Porto in Northern Portugal or in Sintra in Central Portugal. From the Porto Untour, you can venture into the Douro River Valley for a long day trip to taste wines. And from the Sintra Untour, Lisbon is an easy trip and a great place to find wine bars and sample all the best libations.