The Minho region lies in the northwest corner of Portugal -- this is where Vinho Verde comes from. Translated Vinho Verde means green wine, which does not mean that the wine is picked early when green or that the wine itself is green. There are a couple of reasons: first, most Vinho Verdes are designed to be consumed while young and fresh before their first year. Second, the region itself is very verdant. It used to be called Costa Verde ( Green Coast ) due to the generous amount of rainfall there every year (on average 77 inches). For this reason, most vines are trained to grow high, usually up trees or poles. So ladders are used to pick the grapes, which is back breaking work! There are thousands of small individual grape growers in this area, and they utilize every inch of land they have. By training the vines up high, which avoids moisture from the rain, they are able to make maximum use of this fertile land by planting corn, wheat, potatoes, etc under the grapes. Vinho Verde comes in three colors: white, being the most popular, red and rose, though white is mostly exported, the reds can be big and over bearing. Roses, you rarely see outside of Portugal.
That little fizz you get when you first open a bottle of white Vinho Verde is a little CO2, caused by fermentation. The carbonation is what makes Vinho Verde so refreshing in the summer time, which the wine seems to retain very well in its youth. The naturally low alcohol ( usually 8.5 to 11.5 %), the bright flavors of floral green apple, and mineral combined with bright, luscious acidity and salinity, finishes with a slight prickle on the tongue. Mmm... I wonder what dishes I could have with this? How about almost anything from the sea? Here at Oceana the sea is our specialty. How about a dozen oysters, or one of our fantastic seafood towers and a bottle of Vinho Verde? At home I have it with sardines, off the grill or vegetable dips. It is also great with salads especially if they have tuna, shrimp, or lobster...yum!!!
There are many grape varietials used in Vinho Verde production. In white, the most important one is Alvarinho, which makes a richer style on its own. The ones from the sub-region of Moncao can achieve alcohol levels up to 14%!!! Aside from that, Alvarinho is blended with most often Loureiro, Trajadura, Arinto, Azal and Avesso to name a few grapes of a more general regional style white Vinho Verde. For the reds, Vinhao, Amaral, and Borracal make some pretty bold and tannic wines. And finally, roses are made with Padeiro and Espadeiro to make light, bright, fruity expressions.
Other subregions include: Amarante, Baiao, Cavado, Ave, Paiva, Lima, Sousa and Basto. Vinho Verde is a specialty of Northern Portugal and is the absolutely perfect summer wine to have as an aperitif or enjoy a glass or a bottle with your meal. Cheers!!!
To your health...I look forward to seeing you here at Oceana.