My Portuguese Love Affair
I love Portuguese wines. I love the value. I love the diversity. I love the flavors. I love their wide availability, and how they show up at every restaurant I’m at lately. From delicate, effervescent Vinho Verdes to bold Douro and Alentejo blends, I’m hooked.
Maybe visits and a seriously good dessert hook up on that side of the Atlantic have made me biased, but I doubt it considering the growth of Portuguese wines available in the US in recent years. (PT is currently the 7th largest exporter to the USA, and on the rise to no. 6).
I also love how unpretentious Portuguese wines tend to be. Coming from a country that was isolated for roughly 40 years thanks to dictator Salazar, wines that might have hit the stage in previous decades are just getting their due, and often still seem shy in the limelight. (Read: High quality wines without the quality price tag that comes from more established regions.)
The field-blends–wines made from mystery proportions of the 250 indigenous grape varieties grown like wildflowers–of Portugal are part of the magic. They’re usually meant to be drunk relatively young, have rustic charm on their side, and kick-it with simple, meaty food. (Portugal is a vegetarian’s nightmare).
Scoping out the bottles at the Douro Region’s Wine museum.
The Doño Ermelinda Reserva 2010 ($13), which is available stateside is exactly the red blend I’m talking about here: Dense, and full in the mouth with delicate aromas of clove, vanilla and spice this sucker stands up to simple, hearty grilled meats. Dark and gorgeous, it’s like the girl who doesn’t try to get attention, and ends up with all the attention in the room.
The whites from Northern Portugal steal the show in the same way. Designed to be enjoyed with cheese you practically just pulled from a cow, or seafood caught today, they’re yummy and classic and bright.
The lovely, nearly clear colored Aveleda Alvarinho 2010($11) would definitely fit the bill here. I swirled this juice with surrounded by snobs at a Wines of Portugal tasting and despite their demeanor, even they couldn’t help but smile as this bright, peachy and slightly bubbly juice lit up mouths across the room.
There’s a heavy everday element to these wines, some of which are totally fantastic, and the people in that country suck them down like water for good reason. Try it sometime.
Wines of Portugal Uncorked:
Laura Loves: Altria! Nothing like vanilla pudding filled with noodles and topped with little cinnamon designs! (Trust me, just try it.)
Vinho Verde for day drinking.