And, so many drops to drink! There are a total of 14 different wine regions in Portugal. 12 on the mainland, and two more on the islands, Madeira and the Azores. My current pipe dream is to visit each one and to write a book about them. I am planning my next trip to the Minho now. It is the northernmost wine region in Portugal. I might as well start at the top.
The Minho comprises the better part of northern Portugal. It starts at the Spanish border and goes south until the Douro region. Alvarinho is one of the predominant grapes in the area. It is known as Albarino in Spain. Same grape, different country, and spelling. Vinho Verde is the best-known type of wine in this area. Meaning green wine, green, in this case, refers to young wine. The most common grapes in Vinho Verde are Alvarinho, Avesso, Loureiro, Trajadura, and Arinto, for whites. And Vinão for red.
Yes, there are red Vinho Verdes, and they are delicious! One of our favorite restaurants in Lisbon, O Prado, has a red Vinho Verde as its house red wine. It is a perfect match for the grilled salmon when it is on the menu. Red Vinho Verde is light, fruity, and Gamay like in its flavors. Unfortunately, for those who don't live here, it isn't seen much outside of Portugal. The red Vinho Verde wines can vary in weight and flavor.
The Pardos red Vinho Verde from Antonio Joaquim Castro Pinheiro is a rare and wonderful thing. It is a dark, black iris color and is not just spritzy but downright frizzante, with meaty black fruit flavors. It is an entirely different animal, even in the red Vinho Verde department. It clocks in at only 11 percent abv, but it is dry on the palate. It is a wine with plenty of wow factor.
Vinho Verde wines come in red, white, and rose. They vary from dry to off-dry, but most are light and fruity with a hint of spritz. It makes them perfect for the warmer months. Some of the better-known brands are, Aveleda, Casal Garcia, and Solheiro. Most are a blend of different grapes, but the single varietals are outstanding. Solheiro produces Alvarinhos that are delicious. There is more variety within these wines than one would imagine. They are certainly worth checking out. Viva Vinho Verde!