In America, we are most accustomed to picking up a Bordeaux Red or California Pinot Grigio at their local wine shop, Portugal is host to hundreds of wine grape varietals and produces some very prized wines. And the best part? You can find great bottles of Portuguese wine for less than $10!
What kinds of wines can you expect from this small country that’s the size of Indiana?
Douro Reds: Perhaps the most well-known Portuguese varietal, this wine takes it name from the Douro River, which meanders through the Northern Portuguese mountains before ending in the Atlantic at Porto. The soil in this region is schist and clay and the climate is hot and dry, which produces very intensely flavored dry red wines that are fruity and high in tannins.
Alicante Bouschet: One of the few varietals that has both red skin and red flesh, this wine is produced in Southern Portugal and is super fruity, somewhat similar to a Shiraz or Zinfandel. It’s best to drink it when it’s young. Grab a bottle from Alentejo DOP or Alentejano IG for under $15.
Jaen: This grape is grown in Northern Spain and the Portugal Dao region, where pine trees and snow are the norm. Fruity and earthy with a kick of pepper, this wine ages well and would likely be famous were it any of the premier wine-making countries. You can find a bottle from Dao DOP for about $30.
Vinho Verde: This unique effervescent and fruity white is a great go-to wine for the summertime, and comes at a bargain price for around $6-$10 a bottle. Not too sweet and a little zippy, it’s a wine that goes down easy. It’s grown in the Minho region in the north of Portugal and is actually a combination of a few white grapes (not green!). Drink it young!
Our tour, the Wines & Back Road of Portugal, stops in at five wineries, including the Herdade do Esporao wine estate and enjoys a wine cruise along the Douro River!