Featured wine: Vinho Verde
Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine from the Minho region in the far north of the country. The name literally means "Green Wine", referring to its youthful freshness rather than its color. About 11% of production is exported, almost all of which is white wine. The main export markets are France, the United States, and Germany, followed by Angola, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The region is characterized by its many small growers, which numbered more than 60,000 as of 2005. Many of these growers train their vines high off the ground, up trees, fences, and even telephone poles so that they can cultivate vegetable crops below the vines that their families may use as a food source.
The Vinhos Verdes are light and fresh, and are intended to be drunk within a year. At less than one bar of CO2 pressure, they do not quite qualify as semi-sparkling wines but do have a definite pétillance. The white Vinho Verde is very fresh, due its natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas that depend on the grape variety. The white wines are lemon- or straw-coloured, around 9 to 11% alcohol, and are made from local grape varieties Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. Vinho Alvarinho is made from Alvarinho grapes, from a small designated sub-region of Monção. It has more alcohol (11.5 to 14%) and ripe tropical aromas. The reds are deep red and tannic, and are mostly made from Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. The rosés are very fresh and fruity, usually made from Espadeiro and Padeiro grapes.
Mapreco (Portugal) $6.95
Gazela (Portugal) $8.99
Broadbent (Portugal) $9.99
Casal Garcia (Portugal) $7.99
As you can see from the food pairings, seafood is the order of the day when having this wine, but you could also enjoy it with other light picnic fare. It also goes nicely with lemon/lime and garlic flavours, so Asian food is a good option as well. The slight effervescent quality of vinho verde makes it a good match for lightly fried, or slightly oily foods, so go ahead and experiment with the flavours of summer.