There are several reasons as to why Portugal is and further becoming a widely reputable player in the wine industry. First, the country accounts for 50% of global cork production, and second, for its famous and much loved Port wine.
Apart from mastering skills and natural resources in cork oak tree forests and through out the Douro, the Portuguese have an overall love of quality food and wine. I know this not only through personal experience of my nationality, but also in the way that Portugal is becoming greatly appreciated for their overall wine production by critics, industry leaders and everyday wine drinkers.
Various varieties, of both red and white, are rooted and grown only in Portugal’s vineyards and as WineCollective searches for uncommon wines to share, these native grapes offer a unique branch to expand your palate. Some of these varieties include:
Many of these grapes have been transferred to countries of similar climate, such as Touriga Nacional in South Africa. Considering its aging potential, richness in colour and tannins, and intense full-bodied flavours, Touriga Nacional deserves to be listed as a noble grape.
There are 14 wine regions in Portugal, all with unique qualities in terroir, climate and grape varieties that allow for recognized specialties.
The famous Alentejo is known for its bodacious and dry red wines made from varieties such as Borba, Évora, Trincadeira or Tinta Amarela and the widely planted Aragonez (Tempranillo) in addition to noble grapes like Cabernet. Equally as admired, the Douro has branched from its production of fortified wine and uses the typical varieties that are found in Port like Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional, in making its rich reds.
Last summer, a major trend in the wine industry was the adoration of Vinho Verde, or green wine. The region’s cooler climate and coastal breezes from both north and west creates light, crisp and aromatic wines from indigenous grapes named Alvarinho, Arinto and Trajadura.
A very popular wine in Portugal with aromas of spice, red berries, chocolate and oak. On the palate the wine is compact and dense with black fruit and firm tannins. Made from Aragonês, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet.
WineCollective has featured many Portuguese wines in the past. These more recent selections may still be in your cellar!
2010 Monte da Ravasqueira Prova
Blend of Aragonez and Trincadeira. The name Prova means “taste” or “proof.” Mid-palate shows soft red fruits and the smoke and spice qualities come directly from terroir as no oak aging is used.
2012 Monte da Ravasqueira Serrana
White varieties of Antão Vaz and Arinto. Notes of stone fruit, green apple and orange peel. A balance of tropical and citrus flavours.
2005 Luis Pato Baga
Made from single grape variety Baga. Weighty core of earth and wood with sour cherry, blackberry and dark chocolate on the palate.
Baga is traditional served with Leitão or suckling pig. For some, the pairing may be out of reach, however, many pork-based Portuguese dishes go hand in hand with the wine such as Carne de Porco à Alentejana (pork, clams and potatoes) or a bean stew known as Feijoada. I would argue that my father makes the best of both, but for those willing to try, enjoy the recipe below!
1. In large bowl, combine wine, paprika, salt and pepper, blend well. Add garlic cloves, bay leaf, and cubed meat, turn meat in marinade to coat pieces. Marinate for 6 hours, turning occasionally.
2. Drain pork; reserve marinade. Pat cubes completely dry. Discard garlic and bay leaf. Melt 1 teaspoon of oil in large skillet. Add pork cubes, stirring frequently so that the meat colors quickly and evenly. Transfer with slotted spoon to a bowl.
3. Pour reserved marinade into skillet and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping off any brown particles clinging to the inside of pan. Boil briskly uncovered until marinade is reduced to 1 cup. Pour over pork and set aside.
4. In 6 to 8 quart pan, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil; add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until onion is soft but not brown. Add garlic, tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
5. Spread the clams, hinged side down, over the tomato sauce; cover the pan tightly and cook over medium to high heat for ten minutes or until clams open. Stir in reserved pork and juices. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with parsley.
Understanding and reading up on Portugal’s unique grapes and their traits will become very helpful as the wines continue to boom in popularity. Whether we featured it, or you found it on your own, comment below and share with us your favourite Portuguese wine!