A Guide To Portuguese Wines
With a diverse climate and ever-evolving winemaking techniques, Portuguese wines are beginning to become a lot more popular in the wine market. With years of being known for port, some of the best wines available today are actually from Portugal, with more premium Portuguese wines becoming increasingly available.
Winemaking in Portugal has been dated back to the 5th century BC, with Romans producing wine in Portugal to transport back to Rome, so Portugal actually has one fo the longest winemaking histories. Thanks to the temperature and landscape, Portugal has a number of different grape varieties, meaning that a number of different wines can be produced, but a large number of these remain a mystery to the everyday shopper in the UK as they tend to be sold locally within the region they were made.
When visiting the Algarve, there will be many different types of wine which you will see on restaurant and bar menus, so here is a guide to Portuguese wines ahead of your trip.
Portuguese Wine Regions
Considering Portugal is a relatively small country, it has a hugely diverse climate. Most of Portugal is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which offers many vineyards a maritime climate, with wet winters and warm summers. In the Douro region, where the majority of Port is produced, the climate is more continental due to its inland location, which is perfect for producing port. The Dão region is not to hot nor too cold and provides the right balance of acidity and ripeness in the wine grapes, which are most frequently used for red wine and is closely watched by wine enthusiasts for its high-quality offerings.
Portuguese Wine Varieties
Whilst Portugal is famous for its fortified wines and port, there are a few grapes which make the Portuguese wine scene special. Many people make the mistake of ignoring the red and white wine varieties, which is a mistake, as it perhaps some of the most delicious wine varieties.
For a large proportion of its history, Port was created with the British consumer in mind. During the 18th century, port was shipped to the UK as a French wine substitute, as many were prohibited at the time. The styles of port can be extremely diverse, with white port made from white grapes and a ruby port, which is a rich coloured wine.
When it comes to the best Portuguese wines, many of the white varieties will have been made using Albarino grapes. Albarino grapes are a popular white grape which is grown in the Vinho Verde in north-west Portugal. The styles of Albarino wines vary depending on whether the wine has been aged in oak, where it takes on an additional richness and flavour. Naturally, the grapes produce high acidity wines which are fresh and light.
The Touriga Nacional is often considered to be Portugal’s best red grape and, although this grape is important for the production of port, its use to create quality table wines is rapidly increasing. If you are a fan of rich and complex red wine flavours, then you must try a bottle of wine made using the Touriga Nacional grapes. Due to the low production yields, it currently doesn’t make up a large proportion of the Portuguese wine market which is available to export, but if you are holidaying in the Algarve, it is well worth a try.