Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vinho Verde, Wine You Should Drink Often

Believe it or not people still ask me for wine recommendations, especially when the seasons change. While that might not make me a "Top 10" wine blogger or some other nonsensical crap, it does make me deeply appreciative of the opportunities I have to sample some unique, outstanding wines...Then turn around and recommend the ones I like to folks who trust my opinion.

(attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Bourrichon)
Vinho Verde. Green wine, in Portuguese. The wine isn't green colored, but green in the sense of being young. Technically it has a tiny amount of bubbles, but not even enough to equal Moscato d'Asti from Italy. Some of the grapes used in vinho verde are Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso, and Azal.

Turning logic somewhat on its head, I recommend drinking vinho verde during the fall months in addition to those hot summer months. You might ask why, and would certainly be correct to do so. The key is acidity, perhaps the singularly most important component in making a wine food-friendly and versatile.

Think about it, around this time of the year we are (well, we in the northern states) having hearty fare, warm fare, food to survive on. We're also having holiday parties!

Holiday parties invariably involve alliteration..wait..no...that was an awful joke. Picture tables full of various finger foods, bodies packed into an overly heated room, and that weird guy taking pictures of his ass on a copy machine. And cake. Ring any bells? Do you really want to be drinking the 22 year old social media interns jungle juice? Is your company cool enough to spring for real Champagne at their parties?

A "no" answer to either question indicates you should try vinho verde at the office parties or other holiday gatherings. Lots of acidity, low alcohol (so you can drink a lot!), and the potential to look reasonably cool and sophisticated make this delightfully quaffable Portuguese sipper worthy of consideration. Oh and it's a massive crowd pleaser too.

Let's talk about some bottles of vinho verde then. Each of these wines is readily available in most major markets. Don't hesitate to email me if you need help finding one.

2010 Trajarinho Vinho Verde: A blend of 60% alvarinho, 40% trajadura. Bright nose of cut grass, flowers, green apple, and hints of apricot. Impressive complexity for such an inexpensive wine. On the palate a slight effervescence reveals more of the apples and flowers, sweet pear, and touches of green. Vibrant acidity creates a nice finish, clean and compact. I would happily pair this with fried foods, Mexican cuisine, or tapas plates. $9.  11.5% abv.

2010 Grinalda Vinho Verde: This was perhaps the most simple of the bunch, with aromas of citrus and sea breeze. It lacked the verve of the above wines, relying almost solely on a bright acidic streak through the center. Tasted later in the day, I suspect that this wine was just a simple, bulk vinho verde. 11.5% abv$14 SRP.

2011 Cruziero Branco Vinho Verde: This was a very interesting vinho verde for me, as it had this interesting, funky mineral note that struck me right out of the glass. Tertiary aromas of melon and stone fruit complemented a zingy lime juice core. None of that funk was on the palate though, as this wine is all about the acidity. Lots of sweet Meyer lemon and stone fruit go along with a briny, drying finish. Great fun at only 9% abv$12 SRP

2009 Adamado Vinho Verde: Made by a cooperative, this vinho verde seems all about the minerality and melon. There is also a subtle stone fruit aroma at play. It's softer on the palate than the Cruziero Branco, but equally fun to drink. I was particularly impressed by the clean, drying finish. By being a bit softer, I think this example is a better gateway to the region and wine than the previous two. 10% abv$8 SRP.

NV Casal Garcia Vinho Verde: Imagine wet gravel on a steel pan. Barely-ripe peaches and sliced limes surround the pan. This gem has a ton of acidity, keeping the palate very clean and focused. During warmer weather, it would be a fantastic sipper, one that you could drink a bottle of and be fine. It's a bit too light (taken in context) for the holiday smorgasbord though. Still, worth seeking out and enjoying on its own. 10.0% abv$8 SRP.

2011 Quinta de Gomariz QG Loureiro Colheita Seleccionada: Gorgeous notes of summer melon, citrus, sea breeze, and fruit blossom all come out on the nose of this wine. It had the most complex bouquet of all the vinho verdes I tasted. Also, it was perhaps the fizziest (is that a word?) out of the six here. Lots of melon and lime on the palate, ending in a burst of bubbles and acidity. 11.5% abv. $10 SRP.

2009 Casa de Vila Verde Alvarinho Minho: Fresh lemons and ocean breezes waft out of the glass in this wine made in a sub-region of vinho verde. Although there is a bit more alcohol, it helps lend weight to the tropical fruit and lemon flavors that come through on the palate. There is a slight bittering on the finish that distracts from what could be an excellent wine, and I felt that this might be past its peak already. Still, an interesting exercise into a tiny sub-region. 13.5% abv$11 SRP.

It's not often I get a chance to taste through this many wines from a single region, but taste I did! Some of these wines were still quite good on the second day, retaining that tiny bit of fizz and mouthwatering acidity. It's important that these wines be viewed for what they are, simple, tasty, and accessible. That's why I suggest them for the holidays. When you're cooking for a crowd and don't want to break out the Champagne but still need refreshing relief, why not a cheap, glug-worthy vinho verde?

These wines were samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. Thanks Beau for promoting the freshness of our Vinho Verde.

    1. My pleasure! I am appreciative of the chance to sample these wines and hopefully get more people interested. Stay tuned for more on Vinho Verde!