If you’re looking for a fresh white wine that’s light, fun, inexpensive and sometimes fizzy, then let me introduce you to Portugal’s Vinho Verde. And when I say “inexpensive” I mean you can literally get a bottle for $4.99 at Trader Joes. That’s aces in my book! Give me a case of the stuff!
All jokes aside though, Vinho Verde is an incredible white wine that shouldn’t be overlooked the next time you’re wanting to try a delicate, aromatic, crispy white. It pairs perfectly with seafoods and salads. Depending on the bottle you buy, you can count on a flavor profile ranging from grapefruit, lemons, peaches, lychee and flower blossoms. You can also always count on Vinho Verde being high in acidity and many times, low in alcohol.
Vinho Verde hails from the northwestern region of Portugal that begins around the Spanish/Portuguese border and stretches to the Atlantic. Like all European wines, it is named after the region it is grown and produced in. The primary white grape varietals grown in Vinho Verde are Alvarinho, Arinto Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura (depending on the subregion). While most Vinho Verde you’ll purchase is white, the region also produces reds. For the sake of this post, we’ll stick with the white grapes because that’s most of what we find here in the US.
The characteristics and flavors of these grapes are:
• Alvarinho: peach, lemon, passion fruit, lychee, orange zest, jasmin, orange blossom and lemon balm.
• Arinto Avesso: mineral quality, apple, lime and lemon.
• Azal: green apple, citrus and orange flavors.
• Loureiro: musky, citrus, grapy and floral.
• Trajadura: lemon, apple and pear through to peach and apricot
As you may have guessed or suspected, because Vinho Verde is a region and not a grape, each bottle you’ll find is going to be a blend of the aforementioned grapes. Winemakers have been successfully making single-varietal Vinho Verde using Alvarinho and Loureiro, but these are a bit harder to find in person. If you’re a fan of Albarinho from Spain, then chances are you’ll love Alvarinho because it’s essentially the same grape. If you’re interested in trying it, I have a link provided below from Wine.com. (It’s a Robert Parker 90 point wine so it’s going to be pricier than the others.)
Now you may have noticed I said “sometimes fizzy” in the first sentence of this post. Well, that’s because Vinho Verde actually comes in both styles. The fizzy version isn’t sparkling like what you see in Champagne or Prosecco. It’s more of a spritzy style bubble that is light and refreshing. While this use to occur naturally, nowadays wine makers are adding it in because they know it’s the version we have come to know and love; however, you can find it without the carbon dioxide added. When you do, you’ll notice the flavor more intense in minerality and acidity. Both styles are equally great and worth a try. (Hint: the version sold at Trader Joes, Espiral, is fizzy.)
If you ever have the chance to try Vinho Verde, please give it a whirl! You won’t regret it. If you’re a rose lover, guess what? Vinho Verde also comes in rose! How fun is that? I can honestly say that it has become a main staple in our household. I can’t wait to lounge around our backyard this summer with a chilled bottled in hand. It’s really THAT good.
*If you don’t have access to a Trader Joes or your local wine shop doesn’t carry Vinho Verde, some great bottles to purchase online from Wine.com are: