Portugal may not be the first country that comes to mind when choosing a bottle of wine, but that is quickly changing, and this beautiful Iberian nation has a lot to offer to the discerning wine enthusiast. Here are five facts about Portuguese wines that will pique your interest and inspire you to uncork a bottle from The Bottle Store’s extensive collection.
Their History Dates Back 2000 Years
Portugal is home to the Douro Valley. Two thousand years ago, the Romans saw the potential in these steep hills flanking a meandering Douro river and planted grape vines there. In 2001, it earned UNESCO World Heritage status in honour of hundreds of years of great wine and how it has physically preserved a moment in history.
2. They Celebrate Their Indigenous Grape Varieties
In a world of wine producers and wine drinkers playing it safe and using the same ten grape varieties repeatedly the world over, it’s refreshing to see a nation that backs its indigenous grape varieties. Portugal has over 250 native grape varieties; they even use them to make wine they sell internationally! Top performers include Touriga Nacional, which is Portugal’s flagship grape and is primarily used in Port and dry red wines. Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), and Castelão are star performers contributing to the distinctiveness of Portuguese wines.
3. Vinho Verde Has Quickly Become a Crowd Pleaser
Vinho Verde, translating to “green wine,” is a type of Portuguese wine known for its youthful and refreshing character. Contrary to what the name suggests, “green” in this context refers to the wine’s youthful nature rather than its colour. Vinho Verde is often slightly effervescent, low in alcohol, pairs exceptionally well with seafood, and can be made from many grape varieties.
4. They Gave Us The Romance of the Cork
Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork, and nearly 70% of the world’s cork supply comes from Portuguese cork oak trees. This is significant for the wine industry, as cork is the traditional choice for sealing wine bottles. Portuguese cork forests, known as montados, play a crucial role in sustainable cork harvesting and environmental conservation.
5. Port Wine: The Quintessential Portuguese Elixir
Port wine, or simply “Port,” is one of Portugal’s most famous wine styles. This fortified wine hails from the Douro Valley and is celebrated for its rich, sweet flavours. To make Port spirit is added to the grape juice during fermentation. This kills the yeast, which kills the yeast and stops it from converting the sugar into alcohol while simultaneously boosting alcohol. This sweet and boozy wine then has the structure for the long term again. This ageing is what gives the wine its style. Ruby, Vintage and Late Bottle vintage ports age mostly in bottles and maintain their deep red colour and ripe fruity characteristics. Tawney Ports age most in the barrel, where exposure to oxygen transforms it into a brown liquid with carmelized flavours. High-quality Ports can age for decades and are often considered one of the world’s most exquisite dessert wines.
Portuguese wines offer a journey of discovery for wine enthusiasts. From the historic Douro Valley to the refreshing charm of Vinho Verde and the globally renowned Port wine, Portugal’s winemaking heritage is rich and diverse. Its commitment to indigenous grape varieties and sustainable practices adds to the allure of Portuguese wines. So, the next time you’re contemplating a bottle to accompany a special occasion or simply to enjoy with a meal, consider a Portuguese wine, and you may find yourself savoring a hidden gem from this wine-loving nation. Cheers to Portugal’s viticultural treasures!