Your guide to drinking Portuguese wine

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Your guide to drinking Portuguese wine
Published on 16th September 2020

Like its neighbour Spain, Portugal has been experiencing a sort of silent transition in the last twenty years or so. The unwillingness to follow patterns and grow foreign grapes is now paying off, and the current production of full-blooded, fruit-filled wines is more than capable of winning on the world stage. The distinctive tastes that are the hallmarks of Portugal’s indigenous grapes have become the country’s trump card for producing the most popular Portuguese wines!

Portugal is home to a total of 14 wine regions (mainland Portugal, the Azores and the Madeira archipelagos), plus 31 Protected Denominations of Origin. The Douro Region, in the North, has almost 1.5 Mhl of total wine production and 45.000 ha of vineyards, and it is the oldest and one of the most important regions in the country.

Want to try good Portuguese wine? Then this guide is for you! We present you the best Portuguese wines and restaurants for those who like drinking decent wine with their dinner. Come along and discover the most popular wines in Portuguese lands!

The winemaking regions

Douro and Porto

The world-famous Port and the much-loved DOC Douro wines are produced in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world - in the Douro wine region, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! 

Look for: Vinho do Porto, Basilia, Vila Rachel, Vale Meao, Batuta and Monte Cascas.

Price range: 

Good cheap bottles - €5 to €20

Mid-range bottles - €20 to €60

Upscale bottles - up-to €700

  • Create your own blend

During the harvest season, the aroma of grapes spreads through the Douro valley, dazzling colours take over the landscape. At Montverde Wine Experience Hotel, you can create your own tailored blend of wine; you’ll start by decanting a measure of green wine grape varieties from the Quinta da Lixa vineyards, and once you’ve picked your favourite ones, you can enjoy the luxury of hand corking the bottle, and designing your own label.


Did you know: Portugal vineyards area is the 8th largest in the world, with 224 thousand hectares, and is the 9th biggest wine exporter!


Read also:


porto

Alentejo

The province of Alentejo spreads south from the Tagus to the Algarve and east to the border with Spain, occupying about a third of the mainland of Portugal. 

Alentejo blends tend to be fruity and well balanced although they differ on which part of the region they come from. “The northern Alentejo wines from the Sao Mamede Mountains are definitely the finest, due to the high altitude, its freshness and the fact that it is home to a lot of old vineyards.”, said Frederico Sousa, a wine expert.

The ones from the south of the country are a little more circular “with mild tannins and a lot of fat.” Cheap Alentejo wines tend to be easy to find, and in recent years, the finest Alentejo wines are known to be the best the country has to offer. A traditional pork dish with garlic, olive oil and paprika will combine beautifully with a red vinho from this region!

Look for: Monte Cascas Reserva, Folha do Meio Reserva, Julian Reynolds and Pera Manca.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €20 to €60

Upscale bottles - up-to €150.

alentejo

Lisbon

Onshore Atlantic breezes cool down the Lisbon vineyards and preserve the fresh acidity and aromatics of white wines. North of Bucelas, on the Atlantic coast, sits a stretch of rolling countryside with nine different DOCs under the name of Lisbon. This is Portugal’s largest wine-producing region, known as Estremadura.

In Lisbon, the blends are also typically fruity, round and light. If you’re visiting the city, you can’t miss the bars here. Try the Lisbon whites like the 1808 wine with grilled sardines for an unforgettable dining experience!

Look for: The 1808 Reserve, The Monte D’Oiro Syrah and The Cabo da Roca.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €7 to €20


Read also:


monte-doiro

Madeira

Madeira island, off the coast of Africa, is home to fortified wines for more than two centuries due to its unique winemaking process; the process consists of oxidizing the wine by heat and ageing. Here, the wine is generally very sweet by nature and is mostly served after a meal – as a dessert wine. It goes well with cheese, hot meats such as chorizo or salami, dark chocolate or with the traditional pastries.


Did you know: Some dishes like Beef Wellington are made with Madeira wine to boost and accentuate the flavour of the food. Surprise your family and friends in the kitchen with these recipes with Madeira wine here!


Look for: Cossart Gordon Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €8 to €40

Dão

South of the Douro, on the granite slopes surrounded by high mountains and pine trees, the Dão region produces one of Portugal’s best-known reds. In the last twenty years, the sea has also changed the wines of this area. Formerly dominated by very short-lived cooperatives, the region now has a whole bunch of competitive, small-scale producers making appropriate, pleasant wines with elegance.

Dão’s wines are dry and silky, and are well paired with bacalhau (salted cod)!

Look for: Titular, Soito Reserva and Quinta da Fata Reserva.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €20 to €60

Upscale bottles - up-to €280

soito

Setúbal

Setúbal wines are mainly produced from muscatel grapes of the hills of the Serra Arrábida. Pair with a slice of gooey cheese, like queijo da ovelha, and enjoy the fortified taste of Setúbal wines!

If you are spending the day in Setúbal and came specifically for the wines, don’t miss the wine tour in José Maria de Fonseca vineyard, as this brand is one of Portugal’s largest and most prestigious wine companies.

Look for: Moscatel Roxo Superior, Fernão Pires, Alfrocheiro and Trincadeira

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €10 to €50

Azores

This archipelago of nine islands with active volcanoes lays about a third of the way out of the Atlantic between Lisbon and New Jersey. The Azores has been making wine for decades. What is interesting about these wines is that the vines cultivate and harvest grapes on the top of the volcanoes!

The Azores are well renowned for their special white wine of the island of Pico, renowned as Verdelho. With it, try the local speciality, cozido das furnas, a stew with layers of chicken made below the earth, blood sausage, pork, beef and roast vegetables, and you’ll feel like home on a lazy Sunday!

Look for: Magma, Verdelho, Terrantez do Pico and Arinto dos Açores.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €10 to €40

bual

Minho

If you’re a fan of green wine, then head out to Minho Province. The green wine is unique to Portugal and is famous for its fizziness. The name translates as “young wine” since it is released just six months after the harvest. 

A traditional dish to pair with this fizzy wine is arroz de tamboril (monkfish rice), sometimes served as the dish of the day around the coast.

Look for: The Valados Melgaço Reserve, The Soalheiro Granite and Casal Garcia.

Price range: 

Mid-range bottles - €10 to €50

Check the map below and discover the best places to eat and drink Portuguese wine!

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