If you guessed wine region, you’d be correct. Vinho Verde is the northernmost of Portugal’s winemaking regions. The region is located on the west of the Iberian Peninsula, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on its west. Due to its proximity to the ocean, the region’s climate resembles the lush and green Pacific Northwest. Vinho Verde translates literally as “green wines,” but in this case, the “green” means young wine that is released within three to six months after harvest, and it is meant to be drunk while young and vibrant.
Wine has been made in the Vinho Verde region for more than 2,000 years. There are 19,000 grape growing farms, totaling 51,000 acres of the vineyards. Of the wine produced here, 86 percent is white, six percent is red, and eight percent is rosé. Vinho Verde represents about 16.8 percent of the wine made in the country of Portugal, and 53 percent of its wines are exported mostly to Germany and the United States. If you exclude Port wine and Madeira, Vinho Verde represents 40 percent of Portugal’s exported wines.
Vinho Verde is home to more than 45 indigenous grapes. White wine varieties include Alvarinho (called Albariño in Spain), Avesso, Azal, Arinto, Loureiro, and Trajadura. Red grape varieties include Espadeiro, Padeiro, and Vinhão.
One attractive feature of wines from Vinho Verde is that they most likely are lightly effervescent, though the effervescence isn’t enough to consider them a sparkling, or a semi-sparkling wine. For comparison, a Champagne bottle has about four to five bars of pressure from dissolved carbon dioxide in the wine compared to Vinho Verde’s gentle one bar of pressure. The effervescence comes from added carbon dioxide that is injected into the wine as it is bottled. Historically, the wines from this region unintentionally underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle, giving the wine its effervescence, and that is now replicated intentionally, to retain the wine region’s style.
Wines from Vinho Verde tend to be low in alcohol in the 8.5-to-11 percent range, which makes them approachable and easy to drink. This makes them quite desirable for all audiences. Another great feature of the wines is their cost point. Average bottles of Vinho Verde are most likely $15 or under. If you see wines from the region at higher cost points, they are more than likely made biodynamically, or from a single grape variety.
For this upcoming First Friday, November 1st, 2019, City Vino will be featuring Arca Nova Vinho Verde Rosé 2018. This wine from Vinho Verde is made from the Espadeiro grape, and is fruity, fresh, and lightly effervescent, with notes of melons and berries. If you attended the fabulous A Downtown Affair: A Collaboration Dinner on October 6th, 2019, then you would have already had a chance to try this refreshing wine.