With summer coming to an end and Labour Day weekend at hand, I want to take time to look at a white wine style from Northern Portugal that is simply perfect for a hot afternoon, Vinho Verde.
Refreshing, fruity, slightly effervescent, usually quite dry and very inexpensive, Vinho Verde is well worth trying if you have not already. While traditionally Vinho Verde refers to a style of wine making (the style of wine is "young" and meant to be had soon after bottling) used to describe both reds and whites, we will be looking at the whites.
The white Vinho Verde varieties are often mildly "sparkling" or fizzy, a feature that was once a natural byproduct of the way the wine was produced, but is now usually done by carbonation. This is a very pleasant feature that almost gives them a gentler spritzer like quality. They tend to be lower in alcohol, often only around 9-10%, but despite this lightness they are boldly flavoured. They are best enjoyed nicely chilled at around 6 degrees Celsius.
Many Vinho Verde whites can be had for under $10 a bottle, as is the case with the two I am featuring.
Gazela is a really good entry wine to Vinho Verde that is widely available in North America. Dry, it is more fizzy than some others, is quite light and almost lemony. It is marvelously easy to drink in the backyard or on the patio with friends.
Aveleda is slightly sweeter, very smooth and also has a nice fruity and citrus taste. It goes particularly well with foods like deep fried calamari or spring rolls.
In Ontario both are $8.95 a bottle at the LCBO.
They both pair well with lighter fish or chicken dishes, seafood generally, spicy food (I found they were an excellent match for spicy shrimp Pad Thai), and many Indian dishes. It is also just wonderful as an aperitif as you sit in the sun waiting for the BBQ to be ready.
To read and learn more about the rich history of the wine and how it is made, you can visit this site in Portugal: http://www.vinhoverde.pt/en/vinhoverde/