Wines and Regions of Portugal
Portugal is mainly known for its culture. Far beyond the influence that the country has spread around the world, its language, cuisine, architecture, today is one of the main issues when it comes to wine, so come on!
First important fact is that Portugal has enough grape varieties to produce almost any type of wine, there are almost 300 different types of grapes, of which at least 250 are unique to the country.
Considering that, despite being a country of small proportions, it brings with it all this diversity, it is important for every Portuguese wine lover to understand a little about its main regions and what is so special about them.
The Vinho Verde region, as it is called, is the largest wine-growing zone in the country. Geographically located in the Northwest of Portugal, famous for the production of green wines, it has nothing to do with the fact that the grapes used are not perfectly ripe, but so named because of the sharp acidity and their light alcohol content. With a wide variety of grapes, grape types such as Arinto, Avesso, Trajadura, Loureiro, Alvarinho and Azal predominate in this area.
The Lusitanian Northeast is called Trás-os-Montes, precisely because it is “behind” the Marão and Alvão mountain ranges, which, due to their natural conditions, give red wines a more fruity flavor and white wines with softer properties and a floral aroma.
The Douro is a particularly rugged, geographically speaking region, which required effort and some distinct planting techniques. Its high quality in wines has been recognized since the Middle Ages, and in the Douro are produced the famous “Port Wines”, the high concentration of sugar in the grapes of the highest regions is a unique feature.
Near the Atlantic, between Águeda and Coimbra, Beira Litoral is called Bairrada, with clay soils and produces wines full of color and acidity.
The special area called Dão has an altitude between 400 and 700 meters above the sea, surrounded by mountains that protect the wine production from excessive winds. Grapes such as Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen, Tinta Roriz, Encruzado, Malvasia Fine and Verdelho are widely produced for reds and whites, with great aroma, fruity characteristic and great aging capacity.
The former “Estremadura”, now known as the Lisbon Region, is divided into nine Denominations of Origin: Carcavelos, Bucelas, Necklaces, Alenquer, Arruda, Torre Vedras, Lourinhã, Óbidos and Encostas d´Aire. Because of its very diverse characteristics, we will return to this region specifically later.
The Ribatejo, or Tagus, has a Mediterranean climate and its fertility is defined by the proximity of the river. With very fruity, floral and tropical white wines and aromatic reds, the Tagus is king in variety.
The Setúbal peninsula is famous for its Moscatel de Setúbal, but in addition to this characteristic grape variety, it has a large production of Fernão Pires and Arinto. With striking features of floral aromas in white wines and hints of spice in reds, the region still has one of the oldest and most famous wines in the world, a combination of the Moscatel and Moscatel Roxo grape varieties.
One of the largest wine producing regions in Portugal, Alentejo gives its grapes plenty of sunshine and a relatively high average annual temperature for the rest of the country, located in the south of the peninsula. With full-bodied red wines with a strong aroma, notes of wild and red fruits, and whites that bring the freshness of tropical fruits, it is undoubtedly one of the richest regions in production.
Near the sea and with a great tourist movement, the Algarve is a paradise for those who like smooth and very fruity wines, white or red.Apart from the Portuguese continental land space, there are also the islands of Madeira and Azores, which are as important as any other region. Madeira is responsible for the production of Madeira wine, which since the 18th century has been one of the most exported in the world. The Azores, an archipelago of nine islands, has few unsuitable conditions for winemaking, but exceeds expectations with its Designations of Origin Graciosa, Biscoitos and Pico, and great white wine production.
So we get a little in-depth but wide view of the country’s wide variety of grapes, regions and wine potential. Research a bit before you enjoy the wine you’re going to drink, take a look at the label and we know better where it comes from, which grape was used, so we are gradually becoming better acquainted and setting preferences, knowing better with which wines we would like to combine a particular special food, or a special situation.