Light, tangy, and ever-so-slightly spritzy, vinho verde is the quintessential Portuguese summer wine. The name translates to “green wine” but don’t be fooled: it comes in red, white and rose varieties. Green simply refers to its age (it’s young and should be drunk so). and is also the wine’s DOC. This effervescent wine comes from up north, in Minho. The wine is usually a blend, using local grapes like arinto, loureiro and alvarinho.
If you’re looking for a light wine to quaff by the pool during your next Portuguese break, or to pair with some grilled robalo or dourado next time you have a BBQ, here are our top 5 picks. All of them can be picked up in Portuguese supermarkets for a song while you’re on your holidays.
This wine is pretty ubiquitous in Portugal, and it’s very budget-friendly too. It’s one of the first vinho verdes I ever tried, when James and I went to Portugal together for the first time and he introduced me to it. I’m not a big rosé drinker but I simply adore their pink version too! It’s dry and crisp, and tastes like strawberries and raspberries with a hint of citrus.
This is another budget-friendly and ubiquitous vinho verde that you’ll find gracing every self-respecting bottle shop, supermarket and barbecue table. It’s low alcohol, at 9%, so to quote my best friend’s mum: “it’s a good breakfast wine.” It’s crisp, dry and has a touch of tropical fruit.
Portal do Minho
Who doesn’t love a bit of Lidl? Whether I’m at home or on holiday, this no-frills supermarket is basically my go-to. Their Portal do Minho vinho verde has graced my poolside table on many occasions. If you pop into a Portuguese Lidl you’ll find a few varieties of it: the Loureira is a little more floral, while the Alvarinho has tropical and stone-fruit notes. Buy a few, and see how you get on.
Muralhas de Monção
A blend of alvarinho and trajadura, this bright and fruity wine is the perfect complement to seafood (I first drank it in Lisbon’s Cervejaria Ramiro, following in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain and Rick Stein). It’s a bit of a heavier vinho verde at 12%, so I’d recommend having a few bowls of crisps on hand if not a grilled tiger prawn. Look out for the bright yellow label: it’s very traditional looking, perfect for those Instagram shots.
Niepoort – Dócil Loureiro
I’ve saved the best until last here! This vinho verde is my absolute favourite. It’s delicate, floral and exceptionally well-balanced. It has a really refreshing mineral finish that leaves you wanting more. I sipped it with some sushi at Club Nau in Ferragudo recently and can highly recommend the pairing of fresh fish, warm sun and a gentle Atlantic breeze. Dreamy.
These are my favourite vinho verdes to quaff in the sunshine, but if I’m missing any tricks please let me (and other Portugalist) readers know in the comments.