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Friday, June 05, 2015

Vinho Verde: Wine on Friday

There's a sommelier I know who compares wine to people--she says Zinfandel is a dude, Pinot Noir is an elegant lady. If I had to choose a wine that fits with my personality, it might just be Vinho Verde. It’s fresh, approachable, bright, straight forward, and sometimes a little bit bubbly. And it loves food. 

Vinho Verde means green wine, but it’s not the color green, it’s green meaning young. This inexpensive wine is intended to be consumed right after it's bottled. It’s low in alcohol and could not be more refreshing. Vinho Verde is usually a blend of Portuguese white varietals including Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura and sometimes Alvarinho, which in Spanish is AlbariƱo. It comes from one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, produced on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It's a region I'd very much like to visit. 

I fell in love with Vinho Verde when I was researching Portuguese wines for Wine Passport Portugal. When I discovered it I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t more popular. I’ve come to think of it as the ultimate California cuisine wine. It pairs so well with light, fresh flavors of seafood, salads and chicken but also spicy food. You can throw pretty much anything at it— rich foods, salty foods, fruit and even hot chiles. Don’t get me wrong, I love other summery wines like rose and anything sparkling, but my house white is Vinho Verde. Best of all, you will be hard pressed to find a bottle that costs $15. You can find truly wonderful Vinho Verde for $10. What does it taste like? Think tangy green apples, pears, some minerality, bright acidity and never any oak. 

Which Vinho Verde? 

Start with something really cheap and cheerful, anything from Aveleda. Look for the lacy labeled Casal Garcia or Quinta da Aveleda. These wines are good year in and year out and are priced between $5 and $8.

A wine I received recently to try is Enoport's Vinho Altas, made with Arinto, Trajadura and Loureiro. This is one of the first Portuguese wines I've ever seen with a screw top! I read that the company freezes unfermented grape juice and then makes wine, basically fermenting on demand, so the wine is always fresh. Price is about $8. 

I've always been fond of the Broadbent Vinho Verde. This wine with the pretty flower on the label just screams—“take me to a party!” It’s clean with plenty of citrus and costs just about $9-10

Created by a wine cooperative, as many of these wines are, Via Latina Loureiro is a newer style of Vinho Verde, a tad higher in alcohol at 11%, riper and drier and still rather than bubbly. I don't have any price information for it but past vintages have been around $10 a bottle.

Disclaimer: I received the Vinhas Altas and Via Latina as samples, I purchased the other wines myself. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.