Vinho Verde Wine Guide, Tasting Notes, Vinho Verde Grape Varieties & Food Pairings

This guide to Vinho Verde wine is part of our wine guide series of articles.  Expand your wine knowledge by learning about unique wine blends, like Vinho Verde.  Along the way, you’ll learn how certain blends taste, how they’re made, how many calories they have and what foods pair best.

Vinho Verde Wine Background

To Vinho Verde enthusiasts — there’s good reason to drink this refreshing wine.  They’re youthful, flavor packed, and typically quite cheap.  It is arguably the most popular white wine in Portugal, but can also be made in a Rosé or red wine style.  Note that Vinho Verde isn’t just a style of wine from Portugal, it’s also a wine making region in Portugal!

Translated from Portugeuse directly — Vinho Verde means green wine.  In actuality, it really stands for young wine.  Most Vinho Verde wines are crafted with the intent to be consumed within one year after being bottled.  They are, in my opinion, one of the most ideal wines you can drink during the summer months.  Regardless of what wine making style is employed, they are refreshing, crisp, light and can pack a subtle amount of effervescence.  Because the amount of CO2 pressure utilized is so minimal, resulting from malolactic fermentation, Vinho Verde wines are not considered sparkling wines.  Though the carbon dioxide content has become a trademark quality that consumers look for in Vinho Verde wine.  They are also not intensely alcoholic, and typically contain no more than 11% ABV.

Vinho Verde Wine Guide, Tasting Notes, Vinho Verde Grape Varieties & Food Pairings

Looking for a great, inexpensive Vinho Verde wine recommendation?  Try the Espiral Vinho Verde White Wine.  It’s currently available at Trader Joe’s for around $5!

Vinho Verde Wine Guide, Tasting Notes, Vinho Verde Grape Varieties & Food Pairings

Vinho Verde Wine Styles

Vinho Verde wines can be made in a couple of ways.  Depending upon the grape varieties utilized, they can also have varying aromas and flavors.  Regardless, you should expect some hard over-all evidence of fruit and floral aromas.

1. Vinho Verde Rosé

  • Vinho Verde wine crafted in a Rose style tend to have a predominantly cherry hue to them.  They can be both dry or off-dry, with very fruit forward aromas and will most often be crafted from Padeiro and or Espadeiro grapes.  Expect big hints of cherry, strawberry and goji berries

2. Vinho Verde White Wine

  • My favorite style of Vinho Verde — these white wines are incredibly refreshing with crisp acidity.  They are made from local grape varieties which include Arinto, Azal, Avesso, Loureiro and Trajadura.  The best styles have just the right amount of bubbles, backed by big notes of tree and tropical fruit.  Look for Vinho Verde white wines that emit notes of pear, melon, lime and cool mineral notes.

3. Vinho Verde Red Wine

  • Vinho Verde reds tend experience a bit of neglect.  These reds are usually made to be single varietal wines, or blends of Amaral, Borraçal and Vinhão.  Because of the terroir, and the grape varieties themselves, expect a big depth of flavor over rich, grippy tannic content.

Vinho Verde Wine Guide, Tasting Notes, Vinho Verde Grape Varieties & Food Pairings

The Portuguese Wine Making Region of Vinho Verde

Also known as Minho province, Vinho Verde is currently the largest wine producing region in Portugal.  It reaches from the second largest city in Portugal (Oporto) all the way to Spain.  My favorite aspect about this wine region is the terroir.  The soil naturally aids in enhancing crisp acidic content, while also bringing out beautiful minerality in the final wine product.  This is because the soil composition is predominantly slate, clay and schist based.  This, which naturally aids in drainage, compounded by around 60 inches of rainfall annually, forces grape vines in the region to struggle for a place in the sun.  Thus enhancing their flavor.

Vinho Verde Food Pairings

In all honesty, I don’t like to pair Vinho Verde with food.  I think it’s a great wine to sip on by the water or on the boat by itself.  However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pair well with food!  If you’re looking for some solid eats, the best choice would be fresh caught fish.  Bring a couple bottles on ice out on the boat, throw a line in the water and see if you can hook into some reef fish like snapper or grouper.  If you can’t make it to a tropical reef, consider stopping by your local grocery store and buy the freshest red fish, mutton snapper or black grouper you can get your hands on.  Throw it on the grill or pan-sear it with lemon and white wine sauce.

Vinho Verde regional map courtesy Quentin Sadler.  Image sources courtesy Winerist, Hipersuper.pt and SoGrapeVinhos.

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