Vinho Verde Is The Bright, Fizzy Wine That Should Be On Your Radar

Hands clinking glasses of wine
Hands clinking glasses of wine - Cabecademarmore/Getty Images

Whether you're a wine newbie, wine enthusiast, or total wine connoisseur, it can often feel like there is a new type of wine to discover every day. Even when you're just starting out in your learning journey, there are dozens of different kinds of wine to get to know. This is the best news, though -- there is always another category to explore, centuries-old traditions to find out about, and, importantly, truly something for every preference, taste, and palate. Whether you like fruitier or spicier wines, or whatever dish you're looking for the right wine to pair with, there's a wine out there for you. The type we're especially excited to focus on as temperatures rise for the summer is Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde is a wine from a small region in the north of Portugal, and while it's a delightful refresher year-round, the reason it's extra perfect for warmer months is that white varieties are the most common, the flavors are light and bright, and it's commonly carbonated with a touch of sparkly fizz. This comes from the tradition of older iterations, in which winemakers would bottle Vinho Verde early and the sugars would continue to ferment. Today, producers add some artificial carbonation, though some higher-end makers may skip the bubbles. This wine is relatively low in alcohol, ranging from around 8 to 12% ABV. While Vinho Verde translates to "green wine," the "green" actually refers to its super fresh, crisp flavors that exude the characteristics of just-picked fruits.

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What The Varieties Of Vinho Verde Taste Like

Three different wines in glasses
Three different wines in glasses - New Africa/Shutterstock

White Vinho Verde is what you're most likely to find. There are six different grapes that can feature in these wines, grown within the northwestern part of Portugal that is distinguished by a denomination of origin for producing Vinho Verde. The Azal grape gives off lemonade notes, the Arinto has melon and citrus qualities, and the Alvarinho features a grapefruit, floral character. Then there's the Avesso, with peach and grapefruit and even a touch of almond; the Loureiro, which is sweeter; and the Trajadura, which yields floral, pear, and citrus notes. All in all, white Vinho Verde is going to be fruity with an emphasis on freshness, and while there can be a sweetness to those fruit notes, crispness and a dry finish keeps these wines refreshing. Like many other types of white wine, Vinho Verde balances an easy-drinking nature with a bit of acidity and some complexity.

There are also red and rosé Vinho Verde varieties, though these are relatively rare. The reason there are less of these examples is that the region where Vinho Verde is made has a cool, rainy climate, and red grapes don't grow as well as white. So, any red and rosé offerings you find are painstakingly crafted Vinho Verdes to be savored. The red Vinhão grape lends itself to a spicier, Malbec-style Vinho Verde, and the red Espadeiro creates crisp, fruity rosés with just the right level of acidity.

How To Pair Vinho Verde With Food

Glasses of wine with food
Glasses of wine with food - - Yuri A/Shutterstock

The best way to start partnering Vinho Verde with food is to consider some general classic wine-and-food pairings. Vinho Verde has plenty in common with other wine types, which means similar pairings can work. For example, the way crisp, effervescent Champagne works with sweet, briny oysters? That goes for a white Vinho Verde, too, especially the lemony Azal variety. Spicy red wines like Malbecs sing with rich, creamy sauces, and meats like steak or pork cooked with slightly caramelized, brown edges, so ditto that for the Malbec-esque Vinhão Vinho Verde. With fruity minerality, rosés bring out the best in any, even less conventional, fruit and vegetable dishes, and the same goes for the Espadeiro Vinho Verdes.

Keep in mind the basic principles of wine-and-food pairing and you really can't go wrong, especially with something as light and approachable as Vinho Verde. Acidity and minerality nicely temper fattiness, sweetness, and richness. Sweeter wines achieve a fun, sweet-and-salty effect with savory, salty, spicy dishes. If you're eating something that has a bit of acidity, like a vinegary salad dressing, no need to shy away from acidity in wine -- the two will actually play quite well together.

Delving into specifics, it also helps to consider where Vinho Verde comes from. Portugal has fantastic seafood, and white Vinho Verde pairs especially well with it. Those fresh, fruity flavors do wonders with salads. Vinho Verde's fruitiness and acidity can also cut and nicely balance Asian cuisine. No matter what dish you choose, Vinho Verde promises to refresh.

Read the original article on Tasting Table