I recently spent time in Duoro Valley and it heightened my interest in Portuguese wines. The Duoro Valley is actually the oldest demarcated wine region in the world! While Portugal is on the world’s top producers list, and a well-known region for age-worthy wines, the amazing value is the thing I find most intriguing. In terms of quality for the price, Portuguese wines are exceptional. Additionally, Portugal is home to 250+ indigenous grape varieties across its 31 wine regions — the fact that so many grape varieties grown in Portugal aren’t grown anywhere else in the world makes them really special and worth exploring.
Between the increased interest in out-of-the-ordinary wines and an explosive growth in tourism across Portugal, the country’s vast portfolio of wines and unique regions have become popular topics.
While Port is the most famous and most copied wine from Portugal, there is much else to explore in terms of wines. Below are four types of Portuguese wines that I love and am sharing more info and recommendations around!
Alvarinho (in Portuguese) is the same as Albariño (in Spanish), and is a white grape variety grown in both countries. It’s a coastal white, easy-to-drink and light with a moderate alcohol content. Like many wines grown near the ocean, it has a slight salinity, which makes it a perfect food wine. It’s loved for its rich stone fruit flavors, that hint of salinity, and zippy acidity. Many times, this grape is used to make Vinho Verde, below — and as such, Portuguese Alvarinho is sometimes bottled with carbon dioxide to give it a light, sparkling sensation. Albariño is great to drink young, but also has aging potential. This is go-to wine for me, and what I pick anytime I see it on a menu!
Artesania Portugal Alvarinho $14.99
The white wines of Duoro Valley are extremely special because the grapes are indigenous to the region and are not grown anywhere else but Douro. Most whites are labeled Douro Branco (“branco” meaning “white”) and the wines have great character, acidity and minerality. They can be very elegant and age-worthy. The five main white grape varietals are Malvasia, Rabigato, Viosinko, Guoveio, and Arinto. These are light-toned whites, refreshing, and perfect to drink alone or with light dishes like dish and salad.
Quinta das Carvalhas White / $11.99
Vinho Verde is a small region in Northern Portugal known for its super-value whites, reds, and rosés — but it’s typically the whites that get the conversation around them. If you are a Sauvignon Blanc lover, then you must try Vinho Verde whites. These wines are loved for their freshness, mouth-zapping acidity, low price point and and lower alcohol, making them a great choice for summer. In my opinion, you cannot find a better beach wine!! The other thing that I love about these wines is they have a slightly fizzy nature to them, giving them a slight sparkle. Vinho Verde can be made from a number of Portuguese grape varietals including Alvarinho, Arinto/pedernã, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. These wines are best drunk young.
Destino Fifth Empire Vinho Verde / $17.99
Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2021 / $16.99
Big, bold reds are a specialty of Portugal. The best examples come from the northern region of Douro Valley. The Duoro specializes in the country’s star grape, Touriga Nacional, as well as Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, and is also home to Port wines. It produces reds that are luscious, concentrated and dense, and the best examples have a line of firm tannins that allows them to age for 10–15 years or more. There are not many wine countries where you can buy such impressive wines for under $30. These wines are intense and characterful wines with an almost inky richness to them. There not much not to like about Duoro reds!
I have listed out a bunch below — as you’ll see, these wines are at a great price point. I tried the first one, the Eminente Red Blend, this week, and couldn’t believe the price for the quality of the bottle.
Eminente Red Blend Reserva 2020 / $11.99
Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Red 2019 / $17.99
Quinta Vale D. Maria Rufo Red 2018 / $10.99
Quinta do Vallado Douro Tinto 2021 / $19.99
Next time you are shopping for wine locally or online, do a quick search by region and add a few Portuguese wines to your haul. Chances are that Portugal has a fresh alternative to what you are buying for an amazing value!