What’s the winning combination for summer’s ultimate thirst-quencher? Crisp acidity, low alcohol, and a hint of fizz all come to mind when picturing the perfect patio sipper. It’s time to get familiar with one of Portugal’s best white wines, Vinho Verde – a seasonal favourite known for its incredible value.
While Vinho Verde does indeed translate to “green wine”, it’s not a grape nor a blend but rather refers to the northern Portuguese region of Vinho Verde, a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC), and the wine that comes from there. The majority of wines from Vinho Verde are made from a blend of native white grapes including most notably Alvarinho and Loureiro, however, a few others also make the cut, including red varieties. While over 85% of Vinho Verde is White, the wines from this region can also include Red and Rosé styles! So if this so called “green wine” comes in White, Red, and Pink where did it get its name? It’s because ample rainfall over the region makes the landscape verdant year-round. A visit to the area would leave even the most experienced travelers in awe of lush, green rolling hills dotted with orange tiled rooftops of family homes.
Sounds intriguing but what does Vinho Verde taste like?
White Vinho Verde wines are released within three to six months of the harvest which means they typically exude fresh and fruity flavours of lemon-lime, white melon, gooseberry, and blossom and are best enjoyed right away. Thanks to its quick bottling time, fermentation occurs in the bottle which is historically what caused that satisfying yet subtle spritz in many wines. Wine enthusiasts loved this accidental carbonation so much that many winemakers now add a touch of carbon dioxide at bottling to create that refreshing fizz, however, not all Vinho Verde is spritzy.
Another reason we love it for balmy August afternoons? The lower alcohol content keeps things nice and light.
Its thanks to these qualities that makes Vinho Verde white wine a great match for a variety of warm weather dishes – it plays nice with lightly fried seafood (calamari, anyone?), Greek salad, rotisserie chicken, and tuna sashimi to name a few. Just remember to keep things light and bright to create the ideal pairing combo.
We can all agree that one of the best parts of summer is spontaneous afternoon patio sessions that turn into late night laughs and conversation so when those quick visits last a little longer than planned, you won’t feel bad about cracking a bottle or two of Vinho Verde since it tends to offer unbeatable value for the price compared to other white wines from countries with higher land and labour prices.
If you’re looking for something with a little more depth though, Vinho Verde also comes in single-variety examples using the above mentioned Alvarinho or Loureiro grapes and while they’re less easily available in Canada, they are worth the hunt and can even be age-worthy. Alvarinho displays tropical aromas and Loureiro leans more floral.
Next time you make a visit to our stores or find yourself perusing online for that new favourite summer white wine, head to the Portugal section and surprise your friends at this weekend’s gathering with some knowledge about Vinho Verde as you fill their glasses with wine.
Check out a few of our favourites: