Portuguese wine makes an invigorating spring refresher

By Brian Freedman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 12, 2014

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(Photo by Brian Freedman)

One day soon, winter will finally leave us alone and make way for spring. When that day comes—when the snow melts and the clouds disperse and the jet stream finally finds its way back up north where it belongs—we all should celebrate by opening bottles of wine that embody everything that the springtime stands for: Vinho Verde.

I spent last week in northern Portugal learning about and tasting the fantastic white wines of this region, which extends from southeast of Porto—an utterly charming city of beautiful walks, world-class cultural institutions and phenomenal restaurants—all the way up to the Minho River, which separates Portugal from Spain at its northern border.

The timing could not have been better. The wines of Vinho Verde, after all, are increasingly available in the United States in general and the tri-state area in particular. And with their mouthwatering freshness, flavors that run the gamut from citrus and apple to flowers and a bracing minerality—almost like a subtle sense of saltiness after you swallow—they are among the best you can drink as the weather turns warmer.

And you don’t have to spend a fortune to buy a great one. Even in Pennsylvania state stores, the prices are generally under $15 per bottle, and many are under $10. Wine stores in neighboring states often sell them for even less.

As local menus begin to include more spring-centric ingredients, Vinho Verde is a perfect white wine to bring along to your favorite BYOB: It’s amazing with fish and seafood, but it’s bright acidity and occasional hint of a spritz allow it to slice through richer dishes, too. It would sing alongside the spanish mackerel crudo at Will BYOB, and partner beautifully with the bitterballen at Noord: Vinho Verde and pork is spectacular.

Of course, it’s just as excellent on its own, enjoyed on your couch or, even better, in the fresh air. Look for top producers like Quinta de Azevedo, Quinta do Cruzeiro, Anselmo Mendes, Soalheiro, Quinta da Lixa, Paço da Palmeira, and more. Then buy a bunch of bottles, chill them down, and spend the rest of the spring and summer refreshed, if slightly buzzed.

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