First of all, vinho verde (pronounced Vigno verday) means green wine in Portuguese. But, do not expect to see a green apple color or in any way fluorescent like kryptonite that even Superman could not refuse.
But I digress … In fact, in this case we do not speak of « green wine » but rather of « young wine ». And young, vinho verde is, since it is usually bottled from three to six months after the harvest.
The vines grown to compose this one of a kind wine are located in the northwest of Portugal, in a region rather lush, thanks to heavy rains brought by the Atlantic winds. You’ve probably never, or at least very rarely heard of the grape varieties that make up the vinho verde. And for good reason, apart from alvarihno (twin Spanish Albarino), they are so unique to this area called Portuguese Minho. Their names : Arinto, Azal, Batoca, Trajadura and Loureiro.
From the outset, what is striking when you open the bottle, there is a slight spritz in the vinho verde. Formerly, this was due to the fact that the wines were bottled so early, almost immediately after the harvest, so there was some leftovers of the carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation . Nowadays, this slight effervescence is primarily the result of an addition of carbon dioxide in the tank just before the vinho verde is bottled.
The champion of summer !
What characterizes the vinho verde is its lightness, its disconcerting « digestibility » and its low alcohol content (8.5 to 12%). This wine is therefore the ideal companion for aperitifs on the terrace, for the end of the day with some friends and a nice refreshing wine with sushi and sashimi, salads, seafood and even with Asian cuisine. Serve well chilled (8-10 degrees).
Three examples to taste
Let’s start with the cliché of vinho verde because it is widespread and certainly not expensive at all, the famous Gazela (Gazela also available in pink if you’re interested). Produced by the Portuguese giant Sogrape, this wine is rather lemony with citrus aromas with floral notes. The acidity in the mouth and a touch of sugar are, after all, well balanced. Uncomplicated and friendly. (9% alcohol)
A notch above, there is the Casal Garcia that offers here delicate aromas of lemons and other citruses. In the bottle, there’s Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal. The listed residual sugar (that sugar has not transformed into alcohol and therefore remains after fermentation), is 11 grams per liter. But it does give a right « balance » to the invigorating acidity of this « young wine ».
Finally, Quinta do Ameal , Loureiro Branco which is rather an “upscale” vinho verde (although this type of wine never takes itself seriously). Just effervescent, it is full of citrus, green apples and pears. It is purely aromatic and rather mineral. Its small grassy side makes it a good companion for grilled fish with herbs. Cheers !