For most drinkers the country of Portugal exists to produce one and only one alcoholic beverage, Port, the luscious elixir that’s popular for closing out a meal, particularly around the holidays if you’re a Brit. To say that Portugal has a branding problem is an understatement. For decades we’ve treated Portugal as a niche country for whom only Port and Madeira are worth consuming, but by doing so, we’re missing out on the incredible wine Portugal has to offer. Sure it has the Port our forefathers drank, but it also has so much more, especially if you’re a wine consumer who loves to find those affordable diamonds in the rough, and let’s face it, who doesn’t?
So what’s the deal with Portugal, and why don’t we know all that much about it? It really boils down to two main culprits: Portugal’s own history of pushing Port above all else, and the simple fact that the indigenous grapes the Portuguese use to make their wine are grapes we just don’t know and can’t pronounce. As drinkers, we don’t like to stray from our comfort zone often, so the fact that you can’t grab a Portuguese wine made from Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc, and instead encounter wines made with indigenous red grapes such as Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (which is the same red grape as Tempranillo) along with white grapes such as Vinho Verde and Maria Gomes, means you’re much less likely to pick up a bottle. But not doing so is a big mistake, and here are three reasons why.
Vinho Verde Is The Perfect Simple Summer Wine
You know that kind of wine that is unexplainably refreshing, that just makes your taste buds pop with it’s zippy fresh flavor? That’s Vinho Verde in a nutshell. While the wine comes in red, white, or rosé, it’s the white that has seen a surge in popularity, not only due to how perfect it and summer go together, but also the price. You can almost always find a good bottle for around ten bucks, and that’s all you need to pay for a simple and delicious wine such as this. Vinho Verde is a wine you can drink all day without getting too smashed. It’s the wine you buy a case of for that backyard BBQ, throwing the bottles in a cooler and letting them get opened until there’s none left.
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The Portuguese Are Also Making Serious Whites
While Vinho Verde is the perfect simple summer wine, Portugal has also started to become known for serious white wine as well. One writer has even gone as far as to claim that a Portuguese wine made from the Cerceal grape could rival that of white Burgundy. Though since we haven’t had the specific wine the writer gushed about, we can’t confirm the claim. But Portugal is making great white wine, especially in the central coastal regions. Look for names on the bottle such as Bairrada, Douro and Beira Atlântico.
The Douro Region Is More Than Just Port – It’s The Most Exciting Region In Portugal
The Douro is probably one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and although it’s historically known for producing Port, now it’s not only beautiful, but also the most exciting wine region in the country. With Port not being what it once was, winemakers in this region are reimagining what their wines can be, and the experimentation they are bringing to their creations makes these wines some of the most exciting out there. While we hate to recommend a wine just because it’s trendy, which red wines from the Douro definitely are, we must, simply because they’re just delicious. Because these wines are made from the same grapes used to make Port, many of them will have the similar Port flavors of spice, dark fruit — such as plums and prunes — and great acidity. These wines are Malbec’s older brother, similar in flavor but with a more Old-World refinement. This is the one region where you’ll want to spend over $20 to ensure you get a great bottle, but you won’t be disappointed.
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