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In Good Taste

Your International Passport to Portuguese Wine

Your International Passport to Portuguese Wine

An Underrated Haven of Undiscovered Wines

What are some of the countries that come to mind when you think of those that are most well-known for their wine? France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and the United States are probably a few that you would rattle off when thinking of famous wine countries. If so, we are proud! That means you’ve been studying up on your wine knowledge, and now you deserve to celebrate with a glass of that oh-so revered beverage. 

Hm, so what sort of wine should you pour for yourself to celebrate that wine wisdom of yours? Might we suggest something a little bit different – maybe a Portuguese wine?

While Portugal may not be the first country that comes to mind when considering the top-producing wine countries in the world, it certainly stands alone as having some delicious wines that are unlike anything else on earth. In fact, Portugal is home to hundreds of native grape varieties that don’t grow anywhere else, making for a truly unique experience for those on the lookout for their next favorite, undiscovered wine. On top of being unique and delicious, you can also find a quality bottle of Portuguese wine for less than $20. Yes, really! 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the wine that this coastal country on the Iberian Peninsula has to offer. Keep that wine glass of yours handy, because today, we’re going to discover Portuguese wine!

History of Portuguese Wine

The origins of Portuguese wine date back nearly 4000 years and have influences from several ancient civilizations including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans – with the Romans having the greatest influence. The Romans influenced the expansion and promotion of viticulture within the region, and Portuguese wine was produced not only for local consumption but also for export to the Roman Empire. 

There are 14 wine regions and 31 DOC (Denomicação de Origem Controlada) regions in Portugal. The Douro wine region was demarcated in 1756, making it the oldest wine region in the world with some grape varieties that can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. So it’s safe to say that Portuguese winemakers know what they’re doing! 

History of Portuguese Wines

Because Portuguese winemaking was developed without much influence from other wine powerhouses, it is distinctly different from other varieties in the world. Unless you’ve gone out of your way to research Portuguese wine for fun (and we don’t blame you if you do), chances are, it is unlikely that you’ve come across the names of these Portuguese grape varieties. One of the best ways to gain some familiarity with Portuguese wines is by taking a look at a few of the most well-known wine regions within the country. 

Wine Regions (Appellations)

As we discussed earlier, there are 14 wine regions in Portugal. These regions fall under what is known as the Vinho Regional category of Portuguese wines, which is a less strict classification than DOC wines. The DOC regions have stricter laws and more defined boundaries, which typically, though not always, result in a higher quality wine. These 31 DOC regions fall within the larger 14 wine regions. 

One of the best ways to get a feel for Portuguese wines is by taking a tour of the different wine regions in the country. We will look at 6 of the 14 regions in Portugal that produce some of the country’s best wine.

Portuguese Wine Appellations or Regions

Vinho Verde

Although it translates to Green Wine, Vinho Verde is a region well known for its refreshing, low ABV white wines. The “green” refers to the youthfulness of the wine, meaning that this vino is best enjoyed soon after it is made. Reach for a Branco Vinho Verde or a Rosado Vinho Verde – a rose version of this refreshing vino. Wines from this region typically have bright, acidic notes of lime and white peach, and are best enjoyed in the sunshine on a white, sandy beach or with some quality seafood. 

Vinho Verde Wine Appellation

Douro

The Douro river valley is best known for the dessert wine, Port, which is well-known and replicated throughout the world. Douro is so revered that the entire region is a UNESCO world heritage site. The terraced hills that lead to the river have been hand carved and maintained for thousands of years, making it a truly unique region unlike any other in the world. A couple of other varieties that are worth a try from Douro include Tinto Douro and Douro Branco. 

Douro Wine Appellation

Dão

The Dão region is one that collectors have noted for its quality, with some experts comparing wines from this region to the Burgundy wines from France. These wines are typically medium to full-bodied and are known to age well because of their excellent structure. When picking out a Dão wine, get your hands on a bottle of Dão Touriga Nacional or Dão Jaen. 

Dao Wine Appellatioin

Lisboa

Fun geography fact of the day: the Lisboa region is where you can find Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. Wines produced in Lisboa can range from full-bodied reds to refreshing, aromatic whites. Many of these wines are ideal table wines, or everyday “go-to” wines. Alenquer and Bucelas are both excellent varieties to look for when on the hunt for delicious Lisboa wines. 

Lisboa Wine Appellation

Alentejo

Alentejo is a sunny region that produces wines that are similar to our beloved California wines. The climate is ideal for growing fully ripened grapes that create full-bodied, high ABV vinos. For a white wine, look for Branco Alentejo, or for a red wine, keep an eye out for Tinto Alentejo. If you are a fan of a rich, Argentinian Malbec or a bold Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, definitely be on the lookout for an awesome wine for Alentejo!

Alentejo Wine Appellation

Madeira

The Madeira Islands are well known for their fortified wine of the same name. Madeira is made in a unique process that involves oxidizing the wine using heat and aging, and 85% of the Madeira produced is made from the red grape Negra Mole. Quality Madeira is a prized find among serious wine collectors, and can often be quite pricey. 

Madeira Wine Appellation

The Bottom Line

The world of wines out there for you to try just got a little bit bigger! Isn’t that exciting? We all know and love those classic Italian and French wines on the market, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on the complex and unique wines that Portugal has to offer. Chances are, you’ll likely find a high-quality bottle at an affordable price as well – just one of many things to love about Portuguese wine. The next time you find yourself in a wine shop or perusing the menu at a wine bar, check out their Portuguese wine selection. We think you’ll be glad that you did!

Portuguese Wine

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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