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Vinho verde is a variety of Portuguese wine which has a very distinctive appearance and flavor. As the name implies, the wine is designed to be drunk “green” or young, and it has a crisp, refreshing, very fresh taste which appeals to many consumers, with an alcohol content of up to 11%. This wine is available from a number of Portuguese exporters, and it can also be found in Portugal itself, of course.
This wine comes from the Minho region in the north of Portugal, and in the European Union, it has a protected designation of origin, meaning that only wines from Minho produced in a particular way may be labeled as vinho verde. Historical evidence suggests that wines have been made in this region since at least 800 CE, with records of a vinho verde-like wine dating back to around the 1800s, when Portugal began exporting the wine to Europe.
Vinho verde is a blended wine, with a number of grape varieties considered acceptable for inclusion in vinho verde. It generally includes around 60% white wine and 40% red wine, creating a finished wine with a rosy blush. It is also lightly sparkling, which adds to the lightness of the flavor. Many fans of vinho verde say that it can be dangerous, because the delicate flavor and light weight of the wine can trick you into drinking more than you should.
Unlike many wines, vinho verde is not designed to be aged. It is meant to be consumed within a year of bottling, and can turn flat and tannic if allowed to age too long. In Portugal, the wine is also very dry; exports to other regions are sometimes sweetened. If you don't like sweet wines, you may want to try vinho verde brands which are also consumed in Portugal. Many vinho verdes are produced by small estates which make a limited run of the wine each year, and each is distinctly different.
Vinho verde is best served chilled, and it pairs well with seafood, spicy food, and goat cheeses. Many people find this wine enjoyable during the summer months, when it can be a pleasant wine for a picnic or a garden party. If you are drinking vinho verde in the sun, watch out for the wine's hidden kick, which can take you by surprise in warm weather.