For wine lovers and novices, the dominant countries for great value wines have always been those produced in South America, South Africa or Spain. There is a lot of truth in this, but there is a new contestant in quality wine production at good value – Portugal. It is a recent discovery, but the secret is fast circulating. Anyone with a love of wine and a need for good value will be honing in on the birthplace of Port, to sniff out the mass of quality-driven wines.
Not so long ago, Portugal was only praised for its fortified port wines – a tipple with a very long history indeed. The famous port wine was first produced in the Douro Valley in the mid 1700s and the region itself is the oldest wine-making region anywhere in the world. The history of port dates back to the 18th century when England (who were often at war with neighboring France) desperately required a new source of wine, one which could not be ruined by the journey back home. Stumbling across the wines of Portugal at the time, they ingeniously added brandy to its bottled form to preserve it. This mixture would later be called port wine.
Just like many other European lands, Portugal have long accompanied their meals with a good table wine, but these wines never enjoyed the fame of those coming out of Italy or France in the early days.
The big turning point for Portuguese wines was due to the events of 1986, when Portugal joined the EEC (European Economic Community). This merging with the EEC brought about a huge makeover for Portuguese vineyards and wineries. With a host of new technology and new ideas, Portugal began to see a gradual increase in the production of quality wines.
Despite its long history in wine making, Portugal has never been so successful as it is now and they are enjoying an incredible surge of popularity across the seas in America and other lands.
Portugal have always had what it takes to make a name for themselves in the wine industry – with some two hundred or more grapes that can’t be found anywhere else. You only have to look at one of the greats in wine production, Italy and to realize that their eminence has surfaced from taking advantage of homegrown, unique grape varieties.
Some of the more favored domestic grapes from Portugal include the whites; Arinto and Rabigato, then from the reds; Castelao and Baga. As America is catching on to these wines, you know that the rest of the world will soon catch up.
For a few examples of some of Portugal’s premier wines, we couldn’t do wrong to mention the top-selling white – Quinto de Linhares Vinho Verde. Vinho Verdes are best when they are still young and the result is a fresh and light fruity wine. You cannot fault its pleasant taste – one that is only improved when you remember how little it cost!
Then there is a Monte Velho from Esporao which won’t set you back more than ten dollars and has a wonderfully distinct peach taste. For more whites you should discover the Douro Valley – which means more than just Port these days.
Moving from whites on to reds, Portugal can boast more than a few quality reds at low-cost – Fonseca 2005 Periquita Reserva is a must sample.
Whilst you are sampling some of Portugal’s finest you should consider a wine tour that gives you not only the experience of tasting the wine, but also drinking it alongside regional foods that compliment the wines perfectly – or vice verso. For instance, a popular Rose wine by the name of Adegaborba Rose will be at its best when served alongside a healthy portion of freshly grilled seafood.
What is interesting is how a novice wine taster can sample Portuguese wines valued as low as £6 and be led to believe that the value would range between £15 and £20 – that says something towards the quality wines at good value.