Renowned for its famous fortified Port wine, the Douro is one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, but it’s only in the past decade that it has started to gain recognition for its non-fortified styles. Rugged and mountainous, it has terraced vineyards and hot weather that combine to produce powerful, elegant wines from the same grapes used to make Port.
Known for its eclectic variety of high-quality wines, Bairrada is a favourite with wine lovers the world over. Wild temperature swings from day to night help produce delicate, aromatic whites and exciting sparkling wines. Rich soil ripens the widely planted Baga grape, which produces extremely dark, rich reds, as well as intriguing rosés.
The mountainous Dão region of central Portugal benefits from a more temperate climate than many in the country. This results in lighter, more delicate wines, typically from Touriga Nacional, Jaen and Tinta Roriz grapes (for tannic reds), and Encruzado (for light, floral whites).
Previously used mostly as a blending grape in Port, the variety has achieved great success recently as a stand-alone grape in dry reds. It's robust and rich, with strong tannins that make it capable of excellent aging.
IF YOU LOVE: Cabernet Sauvignon
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Ripe blackberry and violet flavours
TRY IT WITH: Grilled strip loin with roasted mushrooms, pappardelle with wild boar ragu or Cambozola-stuffed figs
While it started out solely as a blending grape in Port production, Touriga Franca can now be found as a single varietal, as well as in still, dry wine blends.
IF YOU LOVE: Cabernet Franc
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Complex berry aromas and a bright, floral palate
TRY IT WITH: Cheeseburgers or a wok-kissed batch of char kway teow noodles
Tricky to grow but rewarding when ripened to its full potential, the Baga grape is grown across the country but is best known in Bairrada. Baga is as versatile as it is tasty and is being made into stunning rosé and sparkling wines, as well as reds.
IF YOU LOVE: Pinot Noir
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Red cherry and coffee bean aromas
TRY IT WITH: Roast duck or a simple plate of pasta pomodoro
Portugal’s most famous white wine derives its name — it translates as “green wine” — not from its colour but from the fact that it’s typically served quite young. Sometimes fizzy, always crisp, this refreshing sipper comes from a blend of numerous grapes, including Alvarinho, Arinto, Azal and Loureiro.
IF YOU LOVE: Moscato
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Citrus aromas, exotic fruit flavours and a bracing acidity
TRY IT WITH: Fresh, minimally prepared seafood
Grown widely in the country, Arinto is commonly used as part of the Vinho Verde blend, but it also produces light, refreshing wines all on its own. Crisp and dry, soft and citrusy, this wine’s gutsy acidity and mineral qualities make it an excellent picnic wine.
IF YOU LOVE: Austrian Grüner Veltliner
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Lemon blossom aromas and ripe pineapple flavours with firm structure
TRY IT WITH: Great with seafood or a simple roast chicken
Grown widely in Portugal’s northwest, where it is often made as a single varietal bottling, Alvarinho is also a central player in the Vinho Verde blend. Distinct and well-balanced, it produces steely, structured wines with jasmine and orange blossom aromas.
IF YOU LOVE: Pinot Grigio
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE: Floral and fruity qualities (especially grapefruit and apple)
TRY IT WITH: Cold fresh oysters, grilled razor clams or Japanese yakitori