Vinho Verde: The wines you need to have in your collection
When you talk about Portugal, your first thought may not be about the wine that comes there. Yet, Portugal is rich not only in culture but also in its food and drink sector. For wine lovers, Portugal is a unique destination. And it’s all in the wine. Historically, Portugal has a culture of fermenting drinks long before Romans set foot there.
Summer is a great time for wine lovers. It provides the perfect weather for a bottle or glass of Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde tastes best served chilled, and it tastes great in the summer heat.
This wine has mixed reactions, but one thing most critics agree on is it tastes great.
Vinho Verde is not the wine
Northern Portugal is home to over 45 grape varieties. While many people might say that the wine’s name has something to do with the wine’s greenish color, it is the entire region’s aesthetic that gives this wine its same. See, this wine-producing area is too lush. There are vast tracts of beautiful green land.
Natural resources surround this area. The weather and condition are suitable for grape farming. With the Atlantic Ocean on the western side, mountains running east to south, and rivers up north, Vinho Verde wine has to taste like a refreshing breeze. The area covered by granite soil, perfect for vineyards.
Unlike most wines, Vinho Verde is sold after three months, which give wine light and acidic refreshing taste. To keep it as pure as needed, some bottlers use carbonation, giving the wine a noticeable spritz when you drink. Though some carbon dioxide is produced naturally in the fermentation, additional carbon dioxide is supposed to provide it with the bubbles. Foreign markets such as the US appreciate the bubbles and the fizz. Large-scale bottlers will skip the carbonation. Their wines lack that fizzy finish.
Because of its short farm to bottle time, it is also not too alcoholic. Its alcohol content ranges between 8.5% to 13%.
It’s the grape variety.
Vinho Verde is home to both red and white wines. However, white grapes dominate the area.The most common grape varietals found in the area are Alvarinho, Batoca, Trajadura, Azal, Loureiro, Avesso and, Arinto Some wineries will blend combinations of these grapes. Other wineries prefer using one grape to produce a specific wine.
Alvarinho grows in the northern part of Portugal and some parts of Spain. It produces a white wine with a high alcohol percentage. Wine made from this varietal has a citrus touch and still maintains the dryness that makes it crisp.
Batoca & Trajadura
Batoca is grown in the south region of Portugal. Even in a blend, it provides a smooth acidic character to the wine.
Trajadura is a blending grape also grown on the Northern side of the region. Usually, it is paired with Alvarinho to enhance the citrus flavor with its pear and flowery notes.
Azal is a late bloomer grape, yet it is the second most farmed grape. They are susceptible to heat. Azal grapes produce a crisp wine with hints of apple and citrus, making Azal an excellent choice to balance out any high-acidity wine from the Vinho Verde area.
The pale green Loureiro grapes are found in the Minho region and some parts of Spain. These are used as blending grapes, mostly used with the Alvarinho. Loureiro grapes have an orange flavor. Wine from these grapes is usually low in alcohol content. However, it is not as popular as some other white varieties as farmers move towards more single grape varietals.
Fast-rising Avesso is a white wine grape, found in Minho. Avesso grapes are famed for producing high-alcohol white wine. They have a comprehensive aroma profile ranging from stone fruit and peach to mango and nectarine. The aroma depends on the climate.
Most farms in Portugal do Arinto farming. This grape also has high acidity, which helps raise its profile and keep the wine fresh, especially during hot months. Other than high acidity, some varieties of Arinto wine get a buttery flavor.
The reds of Vinho Verde
A wide array of white and red wines forms Vinho Verde. Red wine is a typical household after-meal drink in Portugal. Red wines are not for commercial sale.
Alvarelhão, for instance, was a wine popular with the ruling class. It faded into relative obscurity only to resurface recently. The grape grows in Northern Portugal, and it produces a dry red wine. The grape is either used on its own or as a blending grape.
It has been noted as having a plum scent with tones of pine, sage, coffee beans, and star anise. Its 12.5% alcohol content delivers an overwhelming headrush.
The most widely farmed red grape in Vinho Verde is Vinhão. It is highly acidic, and it’s common in plenty of households. Although it is widely cultivated, the wine from these grapes hardly makes it out of the country.
The red Vinho Verde wines list would not be complete without including Espadeiro.The light red grape makes the Rose. The late harvest grape has hints of strawberry, making it an excellent after-meal wine.
Serving Vinho Verde wine
Almost all the Vinho Verde white wines have that acidic finish. As such, they go well with fish dishes. Portugal is a big consumer of seafood. So it follows that acidic white wines with citrus flavors would pair well with their words.
The same case applies to the dry red wines. They go well with fish, salads, and chicken dishes. It is common for steakhouses to serve game meats with red Vinho Verde wines.
Serve the white wines chilled at about 38-41° F. Although they maintain flavor, they lose the fizz and bubbles in 2 days. Please keep them in an enclosed space after opening.
You can bring out more flavor from the reds if you decant them or let them air out. They release more of the fruitiness. However, drink up within three days of opening.