Everyone is talking about the amazing wine values you can find from Portugal. Well, what are they… exactly?
Here is a great overview of everything you need to get started with Portuguese wine.
“If you don’t recognize the grape variety on a Portuguese wine label, it’s a good thing.”
Because Portugal’s wine culture developed in relative isolation, there are many grape varieties that do not grow anywhere else in the world. So, if you don’t recognize the grape variety on a Portuguese wine label, it’s a good thing. All told, there are over 250 indigenous varieties and a few imports (including Alicante Bouschet) that have adapted well to the Portuguese landscape (i.e. they are delicious). To many wine experts, Portugal is the last frontier of wine in Western Europe; there is still so much to be tasted and explored. So with all the excitement this region offers, let’s take a look at what there is to know about the major wines and the regions.
Quality Levels of Portuguese Wine
There are 3 levels of wine quality in Portugal. You can identify them by looking at the wine label.
- DOC (or DOP): DOC stands for Denominação de Origem Controlada and means the wine comes from a strictly defined geographical area with recommended and permitted grapes and maximum vine yields (to control quality). Technically there are 31 DOCs in Portugal although 3 of them overlap, making it seem more like 28.
- Vinho Regional (or IGP): The entirety of Portugal is divided into 14 regional wine (“vinho regional”) areas which have less strict rules for controlling which types of grapes are used as well as maximum vine yields. While this implies that the wines will not be as high quality, many creative and pioneering producers in Portugal use the Vinho Regional designation to create excellent wines using grapes or blends not allowed in DOC.
- Vinho (Wine): The most basic classification of Portuguese table wine. Chances are you won’t see this outside of Portugal.
Each region is managed by a regional “Wine and Vine” commission, the Comissão Vitivinícola Regional (CVR). Each CVR supervises and controls the quality regulations in order to insure quality and to maintain each region’s individual character. Also, because water is a problem in Portugal, the CVR also controls the granting of permissions for irrigation, which is carefully monitored.
Portugal Wine Terms
Vinho Tinto Red Wine
Vinho Branco White Wine
Quinta Wine farm. You’ll often find this word as part of a winery’s name on the label of wines from Portugal.
For more information on Portugal’s wine regions go to http://winefolly.com/review/what-wines-to-drink-from-portugal-by-region/