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Vinho Verde - the story behind Portugal’s famous ‘green wine’

Portugal is famous for its ‘green wines’ (aka. Vinho Verde,) and for good reason.

They are, after all, delicious!

Having discovered ‘Alvarinho’ - one of the most well-known examples from this category - whilst staying at the Anantara in Vilamoura, it suddenly became a case of…‘Sauvignon, who?’ in that all-important aperitif-choosing equation.

This is saying something indeed, for someone whose wine loyalties are scarcely ever swayed!

Made from Alvarinho grapes, sourced from small subregions of Melgaço and Monção, this wine manages to be crisp, refreshing, citrus and floral, all at once.

I was delighted to hear that most ‘green wines’ are slightly lower in alcohol than average wines - a quality which owes to the low sugar content present in grapes. Apparently, though, Alvarinho is an exception to this rule, which is slightly annoying, given that it proved to be my favourite.

Generally speaking, Vinho Verde is produced three to six months after the grapes are harvested, which means a bottle is typically 8% to 12% alcohol.

What is maybe more interesting than the alcohol analytics, though, is the ‘unusual’ (and often centuries-old) vineyard management techniques that this wine’s signature palette of acidity-meets-fruitiness owes to.

Most notably, the vines are made up of indigenous grape varieties only, and grown vertically (some are grown to intertwine in the trees.) This helps to protect them from dampness that abounds in the lush green valleys of Northern Portugal, which is subject to an extreme Atlantic influence, and where rainfall is particularly high.

Apparently there are six varieties of grapes that grow in this region, and the resultant wines all have one thing in common, in that they are all ‘slightly spritzy.’

I must say, I didn’t notice the hallmark effervescence, which means that it’s either more of a nuance, or I’m just not enough of a connoisseur… yet!

Either way, my first foray into ‘vinho verde’ did not disappoint - and this is something that I’d credit as much to the wine’s intrinsic likability, as I would the new-found appreciation afforded by this burgeoning Viticulture knowledge!!

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