This Wine Is So Refreshing, You’ll Wonder Where It’s Been All Your Life
Here’s what you need to know about the Portugal’s most popular, perfect-for-summertime wine.
Vinho Verde refers to the lush, oceanside wine region in northwest Portugal that grows over 45 varieties of grapes. As with other old world wines (where the location is what determines the name of the wine, rather than the type of grape), the bottles of blended grapes that have been grown in this region are also referred to as Vinho Verde—which literally means ‘green wine.’ Though the Vinho Verde region grows both red and white grapes, we typically find Vinho Verde that’s made from blended white grapes indigenous to Portugal here in the U.S.
White Vinho Verde can have a tinge of green color to it, but it’s likely that the name refers to the fertile setting, marked by rolling hills of greenery. Others have posited that the name comes from the fact that these grapes are harvested early and are meant to be drunk young. We’ll never really know.
Speaking of young wines, Vinho Verde is about as refreshing as they come, which makes it a perfect variety for summertime sipping. It’s crisp, aromatic, highly acidic, and has a lower percentage of alcohol (generally 8.5 to 11%). It can even be a teensy bit fizzy. I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it.
Sommelier and Los Angeles Market Manager for Chopin Imports Joel Anthony Caruso agrees. “If you haven’t had a chance to try Portuguese wines yet, Vinho Verde is a great launch pad for you. It’s also perfect for picnics and poolside sipping, so this is a great time of year to give it a go.”
According to Vivino, the world's largest online wine marketplace, Vinho Verde is trending. Their consumer research shows that Portuguese wines have seen a more than 20% increase in reviews and a 40% increase in scans year-over-year. Clearly, Vinho Verde may be about to give rosé a run for its money.
How to serve
Now that we’re all on board with welcoming Vinho Verde to the fam, let’s cover how to serve it. As with other whites, this wine is best when chilled, around 45° to 55° Fahrenheit (or about 15 to 20 minutes in your fridge—and never drop ice cubes in there). It can be tricky to keep bottles that temperature outside in warmer months, but a cooler or ice bucket with salt should do the trick.
What it pairs with
An great rule of thumb for discerning wine pairings is to drink your vino alongside local dishes or fresh foods served in the area where the wine originated. Thanks to the region’s proximity to the ocean, Vinho Verde and seafood are a match made in gastronomic heaven. Try tasting it with shrimp, grilled cod, raw oysters, or crab cakes. The sharp acidity in the wine also pairs well with potato dishes and chicken, or it can stand on its own.
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Vinho Verde is a wine you shouldn’t have to splurge on to get great flavor. Here are a couple delicious options:
- Anselmo Mendes Contacto Alvarinho N.V. is a great wine. It’s full-bodied with citrus and tropical aromas.
- Adega de Monção Muralhas de Monção Vinho Verde Branco 2016, both fruity and dry, is another great choice that pairs nicely with shellfish and vegetarian dishes.