The ABCs of Wine: Portugal

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When you think of European wine what’s the first country that comes to mind? France? Italy? Spain? Chances are Portugal isn’t in your top five but it should be.

Portugal is one of the to wine producing counties in the world and for good reason. The climate and terroir yields some of the best grapes that produce great wines that are easy on the pocket. Whether you like red, white, or fortified Portugal has a wine that is right up your alley.


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Portugal is home to a large number of grape varietals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Depending on the terroir and the region you can find anything from thick and fruit forward to aromatic and mouth-coating. No matter what your preference, one of the following reds are sure to be a palette pleaser.


Touriga Nacional is the the MVP of Portuguese wine. Grown throughout the country this wine is known for it’s floral aromas and tannins. Wines of this varietal are typically full bodied, dry, and have a higher ABV. If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon give this one a try. Tasting Notes: Violet, Plum, Mint, Blackberry, Bittersweet Cocoa, and Wet Slate.


Alicante Bouschet is not for the faint of heart. It is a big, fruit-forward red that is an intense balance of smokey and sweet. The grape (a teinturier) is a cross between Garnacha and Petit Bouschet, and was created by French Botanist Henri Bouschet. If you’re a fan of Syrah or Zinfandel give this one a try. Tasting Notes: Black Cherry, Black Plum, Sweet Tobacco, Black Pepper, and Baking Spices.


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While Portugal is known for it’s red wines it’s white wines are nothing to sleep on. The whites of this region can be anything from easy to sip low alcohol whites to aromatic and complex. Many white varietals even get better with age and are best enjoyed after 5 to 10 years.


The Arinto grape is native to Portugal and is one of the top white wines in the country. Arinto is dry with a very-light body but develops a deep, rich flavor when aged. If you’re a fan of Grenache Blanc you’ll like this. Tasting Notes: Lemon, Quince, Honeysuckle, Beeswax, and Hazelnut.


Vinho Verde is a popular white blend that can be found throughout Portugal. This light and crisp white is a citrus fruit bomb that is low-alcohol and can be a little fizzy. If you like Dry Riesling you’ll like this. Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, Lime, Yellow Apple, and White Blossom.


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It would be impossible to discuss Portuguese wine without discussing the most well known wine from the country. Port is a sweet fortified wine that is made in a variety of styles. It is considered a dessert wine but don’t let that distinction fool you. Each style is based on the varietal (single vs. blend), age, and other factors. Additionally, the every style of Port has it’s own unique taste so try several to find one that suits your palette.


Ruby Port is a basic port. It is affordable, due to its age, and is meant to be consumed when it is young. Tasting Notes: Black fruits, Chocolate, and Spice.


Tawny Port is a style that has been aged for at least 2 years. It is a little more complex than Ruby and gets better (and more expensive) with age. Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Butterscotch, and Oak.


Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) Port has been aged from 4 to 6 years in the barrel prior to being bottled and is meant to be consumed when it is young. LBV is a single vintage style of Port. Tasting Notes: Black Cherry, Black Currant, Licorice, and Cinnamon.


Vintage port has been aged for 2 to 3 years in the barrel and is then aged in the bottle. Vintage wines are at their best 25 to 50 years after bottling but can be consumed after 5 years of bottle aging. Tasting Notes: Blueberry, Plum, Baking Spices, and Black Pepper.

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