Portugal is one of the world’s best known wine producers – however it is not generally known for its table wine. It is famed for the fortified wines that are produced in the Porto and Madeira areas. Porto is where port wine is produced and Madeira is where, surprise, surprise madeira wine is produced. These after dinner treats are the classics that have put Portugal on the wine map.
However when it comes to wine the country should not be dismissed or known solely for these drinks. Portugal is also the producer of some fine table wine. Unfortunately it is also some what tainted by the thought of Mateus Rose, however this is by no means representative of the wines that are produced in Portugal. In fact Portugal is the seventh largest exporter of wine in the world by value.
Vinho Verde is probably the wine form Portugal that most people are familiar with. It is produced from grapes that contain a small amount of sugar and therefore the resulting drink does not require ageing. It is traditionally seen as a digestif. The wines are in fact light in alcohol content and slightly gassy in their taste making them a refreshing drink which goes well with all fish dishes but is especially good with seafood. Due to the fact that the grapes have little sugar in them the wines are best drunk whilst still young.
But these are not the only wines to come out of Portugal. Other wines and regions to look out for are: Douro; Dao; Bairrada; and Alentejo.
Douro wines come from the same region as Port wines and have a similar background. Traditionally these were a bitter tasting wine but have been developed into a table wine which has port overtones making it great with meat and game dishes.
Dao wine is produced in a mountainous region which has a temperate climate and is therefore conducive to viticulture. The mountains protect the vines from extreme conditions and the resulting wine is fruity and some think this is the best table wine from Portugal.
Bairrada wine is produced in a region where the soil is predominantly clay. Exposed to the sunshine the grapes are allowed to mature and hence the wines from this region are much more full bodied than those from Vinho Verde.
Alentejo is the southern region of Portugal that produces wine. This is one of the most popular wines amongst the Portuguese themselves and is a high quality wine. The white is a fruity little number whilst the red is a little more acidic.
For a great range of Portuguese wines, or just to browse wine in general, it is a good idea to consult an independent online wine retailer. You can browse wines in your chosen price range, and you can research before you buy.
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Fiona Muller has been writing for over 20 years. She is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years. For more information on wine, go to - www.laithwaites.co.uk
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