The landscape of Portuguese wine
Portugal, located on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula, has a rich and diverse wine landscape. Despite its small size, Portugal is the world's 10th largest wine producer, known for its diversity and tradition.
Thanks to the British merchants, Port wine has gained global notoriety over the centuries, firmly positioning Portugal on the global wine map. However, Portugal has a lot more to offer than just Port. Home to over 250 native grape varieties, the country's reluctance to produce ubiquitous international grape varieties has proven beneficial. Portuguese wines are increasingly earning appreciation in global markets for their robust, fruit-forward reds and refreshing, fragrant whites.
Portugal's wines and wine regions exhibit distinct characteristics: the delicately invigorating vinho verde and the fragrant, elegant Alvarinho; the Port wine and age-worthy dry reds from the picturesque, UNESCO-recognized Douro Valley; the fruity and rustic reds of sun-kissed Alentejo; the hidden gems of Bairrada and Dão; the modern, innovative and New World styled wines from Lisboa and Setúbal. And let’s not forget the Portuguese islands, Madeira offers world-renowned fortified wines while the Azores are getting noticed for their distinctive volcanic soil.
Major Grape Varieties and Wine Styles in Portugal
It is difficult to cover the compelling diversity of grape varieties and wine styles of Portugal in a short paragraph. The regal Touriga Nacional, the best-known Portuguese variety around the world, takes centre stage. It gives depth to both single-varietal wines and blends, defining the character of famous Douro wines with its rich aromatics and robust structure. The Douro Valley is known for producing superb blends that combine Touriga Nacional with a variety of companion grapes, resulting in harmonious reds that are rich in complexity and refinement. Another respected variety, Alicante Bouschet, adds depth to Alentejo's full-bodied wines with its deep colour and rich fruit aromas.
The Baga grape reigns dominant in Bairrada, producing structured red wines with exceptional ageing potential. Meanwhile, in the Vinho Verde region, the coastal charm of Alvarinho thrives, producing whites famous for their delicate herbal aromas and lively acidity, perfect for pairing with food or casual sipping.
The excitement grows as we learn about lesser-known native types like Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (also known as Tempranillo elsewhere), and Castelão. These grapes are the unsung heroes of Portugal's numerous wine offerings, helping to shape the country's distinct vinicultural identity. From the rocky beauty of Bairrada to the sun-kissed landscapes of Alentejo, each region reveals individual traits and styles, resulting in a mosaic of taste experiences waiting to be discovered in Portuguese wines.
Searching for great value? Portugal it is!
The incredible bargain that Portuguese wines offer is one of the wine world's best-kept secrets. These wines give a gateway to explore new flavours without breaking the bank, with quality that exceeds their price tags. The benefit of being underappreciated and overlooked is that there are many outstanding, delicious Portuguese wines under £20. The focus on perfecting indigenous varieties and traditional winemaking, rather than following global trends, allows Portuguese wine producers to create wines with distinct character at a reasonable price.
Pairing Portuguese wines with food
When it comes to food pairing, Portuguese wines provide a world of possibilities.
- Vinho Verde with seafood and more: Vinho Verde's crisp acidity cuts through the richness of seafood, creating a beautiful balance. The frizziness of the wine complements the delicate nuances of foods such as grilled sardines or seafood risotto. Aside from conventional seafood pairings, Vinho Verde pairs well with spicy, exotic Asian dishes. The slightly sweet taste complements the spiciness, and the freshness counteracts the savoury flavour.
- Rosés with seafood, poultry and white meat: Rosé wines, usually made from indigenous grapes such as Touriga Nacional and Baga, exhibit a delicate blend of red fruit aromas with crisp, refreshing acidity. Their gentle blush tones evoke the romance of summer, making them an ideal choice for a variety of events. The lively flavour of Portuguese rosé complements a variety of foods, from grilled sardines and shellfish to heartier fare like roasted chicken or pork tenderloin.
- Robust Reds with Roasted Meat: The heartiness of roasted meats can be successfully paired with powerful reds. The deep fruitiness and structured tannins of the red wines enhance any meal, whether it is a tender lamb roast or a well-marinated steak.
Wine from Portugal is a tapestry made of history, modernity, and an unmistakable feeling of place. Portugal has an incredible variety of terroir, from the serpentine terraces of the Douro Valley to the cool shores of Vinho Verde. If you're looking for a wine that is both exciting and affordable, then Portuguese wine is a great option. There is something for everyone in Portugal, from light and refreshing whites to full-bodied reds. So why not start your Portuguese wine journey today? Visit The Secret Vine and discover our handpicked Portuguese wines which take you on a summer tour to Portugal without leaving home! Looking for more? We have the Ultimate Portuguese wine case here too, if you’re feeling extra adventurous.