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Vinho Verde 21 Sep '22

Vinho Verde is perhaps the only wine region in the world whose is own name is wine, "vinho". Can you imagine the reason? In my opinion, the explanation has to do with the light and fresh style of the wines of this region.

This style has been achieved by the traditional viticulture and home winemaking characteristic of the region, methods that have undergone a clear evolution until they reached the present day.  

One of the stories they tell us, and that you'll read in various places, is that the region got its name "verde" (green), from the verdant landscapes, which remain even at the height of summer, and which inspired several Portuguese writers and led Minho to be known as the "Gardens of Portugal". 

For me - and those who produce there will agree! - the region is called "Vinho Verde" because this light, low alcoholic style, with its vibrant freshness transmitted by the high natural acidity, has its origins in the polyculture typical of the region.

In the case of vines cultivated in "enforcado" the vineyards on the borders of the properties, hardly result fully ripened grapes, due to the rustic viticulture, but also to the humid climate, a consequence of the orography, which looks more like an amphitheatre made of mountains where the stage is the Atlantic Ocean.

The result of this vinification of such unripe grapes was, precisely, vinho verde.

Today, viticulture is modernised. The wines from the region are produced from ripe grapes and the result is plain to see. The region, together with the Port wine region, is the most famous abroad.


What is Vinho Verde?

Vinho Verde is a wine made from grapes grown within the limits of the region. In other words, it is wine produced with grape varieties approved in the region and within the limits and rules imposed by the region. For that reason, these wines may acquire the DOC certification - Denominação de Origem Controlada (Denomination of Controlled Origin). 

The DOC produces Vinho Verde white, Vinho Verde red, Vinho Verde rosé, Vinho Verde sparkling and even brandies, where the big difference is the style that the region imprints on the wines, that lightness and freshness that we know so well.

What creates confusion is the word "Vinho" in the region's denomination. I am sure that, one day, they will drop the name "Vinho" and just call it the Verde region, or something like that.



Characteristics of Vinho Verde

There are many characteristics of the region, but the one we can generalise is the crisp acidity that gives an unmistakable character to all the wines. 

The remaining characteristics are instilled by the different terroirs of each sub-regions and, of course, by the typical grape varieties of the region. In white Vinho Verde, we may highlight Loureiro, Alvarinho, Avesso, Azal and Arinto.

In the rosé Vinho Verde, the Espadeiro has stood out. And in the red Vinho Verde, it is, without a doubt, the Vinhão which stands out as the red wine of the region. 


Types of Vinho Verde

As in any other region, the types of Vinho Verde may be white, rosé and red, either still or sparkling. 

Within each type of wine, it is the sub-regions, together with the grape varieties selected by each producer, that most distinguish each style.


Pairing Vinho Verde

White Vinho Verde is typically harmonised with appetisers or light dishes, such as seafood or fish with little fat. Rosé Vinho Verde, which has recently gained fame, also goes perfectly with seafood, salads and dishes cooked with tomatoes.

As for the Red Vinho Verde, the story is different.

This type of wine is a perfect accompaniment to the typical dishes of the Minho region. I will mention two of my favourites, Lamprey rice and "Papas de Sarrabulho", dishes that require an acidity and structure that red vinho Verde easily delivers. 

Now that you know that Vinho Verde is a region and not just a style of wine, remains the challenge of not ordering a mature wine next time you visit a restaurant, as the wines of this region are also the result of mature grapes. Otherwise, they would not be wines.

Hélder Cunha

Hélder Cunha

My life is wine



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