Starting in that uncontroversial place we call the start, wine in Portugal is believed to have a history stretching back to the 7th century BC. Evidence of wine consumption dates back to when the country was under Roman rule, with no Blossom Hill or Echo Falls in sight. From there, the natives of the country began to produce zhytos, a form of beer, before finally graduating to wine across a number of territories.
Portuguese wine takes on a different form in each region you find it, so in order to give you a bit of a head-start, we’ve compiled a selection of the country’s finest grape-based offerings. With each wine listed under the region it’s produced in, you can pick whichever wine your destination is famous for. Just remember to drink in moderation and to not consume too much on an empty stomach – eating is definitely not cheating.
Home to the most famous wine in the country, port. Grown in the hills along the Douro River, most of the vineyards here are worked by hand, and have been since the first century. Its history for producing this great wine is so impressive that the whole region has been made a UNESCO world heritage site. While your standard port grapes are used in a number of sweet flavours, we recommend trying the modern alternative of rosé port, a relatively new offering in the area. Other options come in the form of the full-bodied red, tinto douro, and the light-bodied white, douro branco.
Home to Braga and Guimarães
Specialising in wines best savoured at ice-cold temperatures, Minho’s offerings are perhaps best sampled by the ocean with the sand between your toes. Perfect companions to salads, fish and vegetable dishes, the following wines are especially great partners to any citrus-driven sauces you’re about to consume. The branco vinho verde has a slight spritz and fruity, lemonade-like flavour, with notes of melon and gooseberry, while the rosado vinho verde offers red berry flavours in this refreshing Rosé.
Home to Évora and Portalegre
A region that has been likened to California by wine connoisseurs, the area has low rolling hills of wheat to accompany its beautiful, hot climate. Home to progressive, modern wineries, it is Portugal’s most current area to sample wine in. The tinto alentejo is a full-bodied red blended with five types of grape, while the alentejano is a regional choice that has both white and red iterations that use non-indigenous grapes.
Home to Lisbon and Setubal
Though of course known for so many other things apart from wine (a separate blog with extra custard tarts can be found here), Lisbon still has much to offer as a burgeoning wine region. Considered as more affordable options to other regional favourites, these locally produced wines are great for everyday drinking. The bucelas has a light-bodied, citrus and beeswax-driven flavour that is usually aged for four or more years. Additionally, the rare colares is a delicious white grown on the beach cliffs, and the torres vedras is a simple low-alcohol option for those wanting something a little lighter.
Home to the Serra da Estrela Mountains
Identified among collectors as a place to watch for top-quality wine, Dão wines age very well from the high altitude areas it grows in. The dão alfrocheiro is a medium-bodied red with flavours of berry and liquorice, and the dão touriga nacional combines deep black fruit flavours with chocolate and mocha – perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
Though not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, we hope that the aforementioned options will serve as a good start on your wine odyssey in Portugal. And remember, if you find any amazing bottles that aren’t already on the list, let us know – knowledge is power.