Portugal produces exceptional wines, with an excellent quality/price ratio, that rival with a unique and diverse cuisine. In the North of the country and in addition to the world famous Port wine and Douro DOC wines (Controlled Denomination of Origin), it is worth checking out what the Vinho Verde region has to offer. The Douro Muscat wine and the Távora-Varosa sparkling wine are other amber nectars produced less than two hours away from the city of Porto.
Port wine is the oldest ambassador of Portugal. This fortified wine made in the Douro Region and aged in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia has two main styles: Tawny and Ruby. Within the first, there are the Tawny, Tawny Reserve, Tawny with an Indication of Age (10 years, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years) and Harvest. Within the Ruby range, you will find the categories, Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Vintage. Then there are the White and the Rose Ports.
The DOC Douro table wines are complex and have earned the attention of the most prestigious international criticism. The reds are produced from indigenous grape varieties such as the Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Aragonez in the Alentejo region), Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cao and the vast majority results from a blend of several varieties, and there are very good examples of monovarietal wines. Whites are dry and are mainly produced from grape varieties such as Malvasia Fina, Viosinho, Gouveio and Rabigato, which can either be blended or of a single variety.
In the same crib as the Porto and the Douro DOC wines, you will find the Douro Muscat, the Douro Sparkling Wine, the new wine - wine from the last harvest - and the Late Harvest - made using over ripened grapes, which on account of their noble rotting action, are also beginning to appear in other regions of Portuguese wines.
Vinho Verde may not have the international reputation of Porto - or that which the DOC Douro is beginning to win - but it is an equally unique wine to the world. The region, which in 2008 celebrated the centenary of its demarcation, produces a light and fresh white wine with low alcohol, fruity and easy to drink. Crib to the Alvarinho, the region is not limited to this charismatic variety, with notable references to other varieties such as the Laurel, the Averse, the Azal, the Arinto - the white - Borraçal, Alvarelhão or Vinhão - paints.
In Vinho Verde one can also find old spirits of excellence and very good reds and sparkling wines are beginning to be made.
The DOC Távora-Varosa born at the foot of the Nave mountain slopes, between the Paiva and Távora rivers. This small region, located to the north of the Beiras and that borders the Douro, is particularly known for producing sparkling wines. There, one can find a predominance of white varieties - Malvasia Fina, Cerceal, Gouveio and Chardonnay, although one can also make red variety wines. The most planted are Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Pinot Noir.
The DOC Trás-os-Montes wines are very different among each other, according to the microclimates in which they originated. This wine region is vast and is divided into three sub-regions - Chaves, Valpaços and Planalto Miranda - with their very own identities. This is a land that ends on the left bank of the Douro, where the Beiras begin.
All of this is in the North. However, in Portugal, wine is produces throughout the territory and there are several areas that are worth exploiting. In the city cellars, look for table wines of the Alentejo, Dão, Lisbon and Setúbal Peninsula areas; for sparkling wines, choose Bairrada - where you will also find peaceful wines of excellence, as such as those reds made using Berries, the Setubal Muscat and fortified Madeira wine.