Portugal is a country steeped in tradition and history. It is inextricably linked to the UK for its maritime and Naval traditions.
For centuries, wine was transported back from Portugal, fortified with brandy to withstand the long journeys, and drank from the lower ranking sailors to the Admirals of the British Fleet! Pass the Port to the left and the left-hand side of a boat being the ‘Port side’ are rules I learnt at an early age from my naval father!
Port is named after the city ‘Oporto’ not because of the word ‘Port’ from Portugal! There are many different styles of Port; Vintage Port being the pinnacle, the best, and most expensive.
Also, off Portugal is the island of Madeira, which produces this self-named smoky and sweet wine. It is actually the longest lived wine in the world! I will go into more depth and explain all about Port and Madeira in another section of Wine Angel as there is so much to learn about these, but here I want to concentrate on dry wines.
Obviously famous for Port, Portugal is now however emerging as an exciting contender in producing dry red and white wines, primarily from their regional grape varieties. Red grapes originally used to make Port, are now being used to make red wines of superb quality for their price as well as refreshing whites and sunshine afternoon rosés!
- Vinho Verde
The wines are blended and bottled per region so they are simpler for us to identify. They are named by region e.g. Vinho Verde DOC, Dão DOC. But there are single Quinta (vineyard) wines as well, which are generally of higher quality. Portugal is now producing very high quality wines from these single estates and lowering the quantity of the latter mentioned regional wines.
This is why Portugal deserves more attention, especially look out for the Reserva and Garrafeira status wines as these are aged, single estate, vintage wines and should be of higher quality and prestige.
The highest classification of Portuguese wines is DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) but a lot of regional wines are such high quality that these have been promoted to this level as well. There are a lot of superb wines coming out of Portugal, so get tasting!
- Slightly effervescent, crisp and refreshing whites
- Full-bodied, juicy reds
- Touriga Nacional (red)
- Tinta Roriz (red)
- Baga (red)
- Alvarinho (white)
- Loureiro (white)
- Padernã (white)
- Plus International varieties
- Good quality Vinho Verde (means ‘green’ wine but referring to its youth, not colour!). Most are usually great buys.
- Douro and Alentejo region’s red wines e.g. Barca Velha, Quinta do Vale Meao
- Alentejo region’s wide variety of wines are all worth exploring, try Antonio Maria.
- Vintage Port and Madeira