The Wine culture in Portugal is very strong and pretty much connected with its long history, and deeply related to the story of the land and the people involved in wine-making activities. As important as a trend is Porto and Lisbon listed in the top 15 cities in Europe to visit. It makes Portugal a good mixture of modernity and tradition in the same place.
Nowadays, people are even more interested to find out the origin of food and beverages of choice. In Portugal, with more than 14 wine regions and 31 Docs (Denominação de Origem Controlada), the Portuguese wine regions are a touristic experience. This reason makes the country a very important destination for those who also want to explore it´s wine experiences.
This article will take you to the finest spots to enjoy the Portuguese wine regions and all that they can offer you. Ready for this? So follow the next lines.
The Portuguese wine regions
Despite from being a very small country, what distinguishes Portugal from other destinations when talking about wines is the high quality standard they have. As said in the introduction of this writing, Portugal is divided between more than 14 wine regions and 31 Docs.
As you might already know from our recent publication, wine has a very complex tasting nature, waging in between its sweetness, passing through the tannin until its aroma. But, in Portugal the wines are unique, mixing the secular traditions of a wine-making activity with the unique grapes variety. Let´s now get to know the best Portuguese wine regions.
This wine region, considered the largest in Portugal, has 34000 hectares starting below the Portuguese-Spanish border, stretching all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and to the city of Porto. This region is fairly wet and rainy and receives the full brunt of the maritime influence. Around 86% of it is white wine made primarily from the Alvarinho, Avesso, Azal, Arinto, Loureiro, and Trajadura grape varieties. Produces approximately 85 million liters of Vinho Verde every year.
With a myriad of wine types, natural issues and microclimates, the wine produced there is typically recognized for being aromatic, refreshing, clean and very light. A must order in this summer breeze coming through.
This Portuguese wine region is also full of curiosities. The name Vinho Verde (Green wine), for example, is usually misunderstood with color character, but it doesn´t have to do with that. It suggests that it is meant to be consumed in the first few years of its life. In fact, the category does not discriminate by color, comprises red, and rosé wines, too, though the whites have come to dominate production. Another interesting fact accounts for exportation figures of 50% of it´s production being one-fifth of that amount gone to the Americans. At last, it is curious to know that since 1999 the region produces sparkling wines of great quality and shows itself as one the most promising places for the production of top sparkling wines.
If you are looking for a great experience in your time there, you will certainly find it in the National Park Peneda-Gerês. It was founded in 1971 and is considered the only one that has the status of National Park. We truly recommend you to visit the villages of Soajo, Ermelo, Lindoso and to the old Roman Road of Via Geira. Explore our 3 Days Experience and enjoy the all of this and more!
Douro e Porto
The Douro Wine Region was demarcated in 1756, becoming the oldest wine region in the world. It's where most of the top wines are produced and that was one of the reasons that it was elected by UNESCO a “World Heritage” since 2001. Is located about 90 km (56 mi) distance from the city of Porto. It’s in there that the Port Wine is born, the main ambassador of the Portuguese wines, having achieved worldwide notoriety.
Its beauty comes from the monumentality of its steep scopes, bathed by the river Douro. The long mountain range protects the valley, on the west side, from the cold and humid winds that sweep from the Atlantic Ocean. These protection origins colder winters and warmer and drier summers. Moreover, the climate characteristics produce unique full-bodied, tannic red wines and on the other hand, crisp, mineral, fruity light-bodied white wines.
The grape varieties cultivated in the region are famous for their secular history. Some varieties come from the Middle Ages. The best ones for the production of Port Wine are: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Aragonez (in the region named as Tinta Roriz) and Tinto Cão, there are also other varieties extremely important in the region, such as, Tinta Amarela (Trincadeira) and Souzão. The production of white wines is essentially sustained by the plantation of varieties like Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Rabigato e Viosinho. For the production of Moscatel, the planted variety is Moscatel Galego.
The region of Bairrada has got over 10000 hectares of vineyards being well known for its high quality wines, like Baga, in the red wines, and Bical, in the white wines. This land was also a land of fights between Christians and Arabs, early in the formation of Portugal, when the capital of the kingdom was Coimbra and the path was towards south. Surviving all this hostile past, it began to export its wine in a very early period.
This Portuguese wine region produces wines full of color and rich in acids, but well balanced and with great longevity. The DOC of Bairrada has been allowed to plant international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir, which share the lands with other national varieties, such as Touriga Nacional or Tinta Roriz. The white variety Fernão Pires (of the region named Maria Gomes) is the most planted. There also the varieties Arinto, Rabo de Ovelha, Cercial e Chardonnay. The whites of this region are delicate and aromatic. Besides the wine recognition, this regions is also known for it´s gastronomy. The sparkling wines of the region are used as appetizers or in the local cuisine.
Apart from that, the Bairada region also offers several other attractions. The Bussaco Palace Hotel or Aliança Underground Museum, where Wine and Art come together. Taste the unique flavor of the Bairrada regional wines and learn more about Portuguese heritage visiting the eight different collections of the museum: archeology, ethnography, mineralogy, paleontology, tiles, ceramics and tin; covering the history of millions of years.
Lisbon is the second largest producer of wine, exporting 70% of it. It is composed of nine designations of origin, grouped into three geographical sets due to its characteristics Bucelas, Carcavelos and Colares (south), Alenquer, Arruda, Lourinhã, Óbidos and Torres Vedras (center) and Encostas d'Aire (north). It justifies the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC).
This Portuguese wine region has a very fertile clay soils and a mild micro-climate set in distinctive geographies. It has a lot of inexpensive quaffing wine, known as vinho de mesa.
If you're looking to explore the wine country and venture out of the city, there is plenty to see and do just a short drive away. You'll find some of the most traditional yet cutting-edge wine producing estates in the country. Beyond the city limits, the scenic country roads around Lisbon will grant you an unforgettable wine road trip.
Península de Setúbal
The peninsula of Setúbal is part of the Designations of Origin, Palmela and Setúbal and the designation of the regional wines "Peninsula de Setúbal”. Along with the peninsula of Tróia, acquired great recognition and importance in the last decades of the twentieth century. It is estimated that the cultivation of vineyards has entered the valley of the River Sado by the Tartessians, for about 2000 B C. It then became a strategic resource and of great quality in the region since roman times.
This region has always played an important role in the Portuguese wines history, specially for the dessert wine Moscatel and Moscatel Roxo. Most of the wines of the region use the variety Castelão (known in the region of the Peninsula of Setubal by Periquita) in its composition. The wines of Castelão are structured, with fruity flavours, suggesting cherry, currant, acorn, chestnut, candied plum, blackberry and raspberry aromas, which harmonize well with the stage in oak barrels. As a general rule, they have an excellent aging potential.
Setúbal is just the starting point for you to visit Palmela and explore its magnificent castle–citadel and taste the Muscatel Wines.
Alentejo region was demarcated in 1988 and is divided into eight sub-regions: Reguengos, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Évora, Granja-Amareleja, Portalegre and Moura. covers about a third of Portugal and has confidently taken its place as an area of outstanding wine production. Here, in Alentejo, you will find the untold story of many ancient civilizations trough the agriculture legacy. The most comprehensive is the vineyards. This nowadays renowned Portugues wine region was in fact a wine region by definition for centuries.
When talking about wine, the most important white grape varieties in the region are the Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Arinto. Regarding the red varieties, stresses the importance of Trincadeira, Aragonez, Castelão and Alicante Bouschet (French variety).
Therefore, the area is represented by the full-bodied reds, rich in tannins and with aromas of wild and red berries. The white wines are mild, slightly acid and with aromas of tropical fruits. In short, the Alentejo wines offer tremendous pleasure, be they white, rosé or red wine.
Alentejo is one of the best region to dive into its history. There we recommend a visit to Giraldo Square, the Roman Temple, the Convento dos Lóios, the Museum of Évora and the Cathedral.
In the Alto Alentejo, Portalegre, we recommend a visit to the Municipal Museum, the Museum José Régio and the Cathedral.
In Beja, the capital of Baixo Alentejo, we recommend a visit to the Calabouços (dungeon), the República Square, the Convent Nossa Senhora da Conceição and the Visigoth Museum.
You must have notice during this article that Portugal is very well-known for its wine and food experiences. In fact in any of the Portuguese wine regions you should be able to be strongly connected with the vineyards and the wine produces here. You will certainly learn about the Portuguese wines and the particular aspects and Portuguese wine making traditions. So don't miss the opportunity to visit us. Request us a custom tour in Portugal.