Vinho Verde

The verde or 'green' in Vinho Verde (pronounced something like 'Vino verge') refers not to the colour of the wine but to its youth. The red and white Vinho Verde wines produced in this rainwashed region just south of the Minho river, which forms the border with Spain and gives its name to Minho IGP, are all designed to be drunk when still young and fresh. High acidity and more than a trace of post-fermentation fizz is their hallmark. The more concentrated examples, produced by Quinta do Ameal, for example, bear a strong resemblance to the Rías Baixas wines made just over the river in Spain's Galicia - indeed the same aristocratic white grape variety, here spelt Alvarinho, is the most admired in the Minho region. Some of the more commercial bottlings are deliberately sweetened and slightly carbonated but the likes of Palácio de Brejoeira, Paço do Teixeiró, Quinta de Alderiz and Quinta do Ermízio bottle a wine that a local would recognise. Some producers in the region are becoming a bit more worldly and producing white wines with more body and even some oak (not necessarily a good thing). Quinta da Covela is a particularly innovative and successful producer of modern wines from this region that don’t qualify as Vinho Verde and are therefore labelled as Minho. The locals drink twice as much red Vinho Verde as white but hardly any of this slightly fizzy, very dry, very light red is exported, with good reason.

Some favourite producers: Quinta do Ameal, Quinta de Azevedo, Casa de Cello, Covelha, Quinta do Foz de Arouce, Quinta de Soalheiro. 

In a nutshell

Crisp light whites, thin reds.