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Home arrow Wine regions arrow Portugal


Portugal is mainly known for its Portos. However, in recent years, several producers have modernized their methods of wine making and produce quality wines that are steadily improving. Previously a bit heavy, red wines of Portugal offer more flexibility and freshness. Despite the popularity of international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Portuguese producers have preserved the authenticity of their wines and use mostly native varietals such Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional.

The Portuguese vineyard extends over 200 000 hectares in more than 300,000 vineyards. The total area of the vineyards of Portugal represents about 3% of the world vineyard, the 8th largest producer.

The main wine regions are located in North and Central regions: Estremadura, Douro, Minho, Alentejo, Terras do Sado, Beiras, Bairrada and Dao region.

History of wine in Portugal

  • The history of wine starts in Portugal in 2000 BC. It is the Tartars who plant the first vineyards in the valleys of Taje and Sado.
  • In the 10th century BC, Phoenicians introduce new varieties of grapes and take control of the trade of wine.
  • By the 7th century BC, the Greeks settled in the Iberian Peninsula and modernize the culture of the vine.
  • Between the 2nd and 6th century BC, the Celts and then the Romans also contribute to the modernization of the making of wine in Portugal. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the successive civilizations continue to produce wine in Portugal.
  • By 1450, wine has become the most exported thing from Portugal. The caravels of the great explorers of the 15th and 16th century always carry wine in their cargo.
  • In 1756 the Port wine is already famous worldwide and Porto is the first wine region of the world to be delimited, the Alto Douro.
  • In 1763, the Treaty of Methwen opens trade between Portugal and England, creating excellent conditions for the export of Portuguese wine to England.
  • In the 19th century, the Phylloxera destroyed a large quantity of vines. At the end of this century follows a slow recovery of wine production.
  • In the 20th century, several new wine regions are emerging and many are named in 1986 following Portugal's accession to the European Union.

Grape varieties of Portuguese wine

The international and French grape varieties represent a marginal portion of wine production in Portugal. Here are the main indigenous grape varieties used:

Red wines of Portugal

The red wines from Portugal are produced from the following varietals:

  • Castelão
  • Touriga Franca
  • Touriga Nacional
  • Tinta Roriz
  • Vinhão

White wines of Portugal

The white wines are produced in Portugal from following varietals:

  • Bical
  • Fernão Pires
  • Verdelho

Characteristics of wines from Portugal

Red wines (Vinho Tinto) 

The best Portuguese red wines are produced in the regions of Dão, Douro and Alentejo. These wines are usually strong and aged in oak barrels. They are expressive wines with aromas of cocoa, licorice and spices.

Dry white wine (Vinho Branco)

Portugal is not known for its dry white wines. The most well known white wine is the vinho verde. It is a young wine with citrus flavors.

Sparkling wine (Vinho espumante)

There are some sparkling wines appellations in Palmela and Bairrada. They are vinified using traditional methods but made with the native varietals.


Port wine is the most famous of Portugal. It is a fortified wine by adding alcohol during fermentation and whose aging takes at least 3 years. The invention of Porto is due to the need for wine suitable for travelling at sea and sun. For this, the English traders learned to add alcohol to to stabilize the wine. This strengthens the and maintains its sugar. Also, the Portuguese traders who traveled around the world often left with the bottom of the ship filled with wine barrels to stabilize it.


The Madeira is a red wine produced as a Port but it is heated (in the sun or with hot water). This heating develops aromas of caramel, nuts and spices.


Vinified as Port, this wine is made from the muscat grape. It is aged at least 5 years in barrels. It is a powerful and concentrated wine.


Evaluations - Portugal

José Maria da Fonseca Periquita Reserva, $15.95
Caves Velhas Catedral, $13.75
Cortes de Cima Chaminé, $14.95
Quinta da Romaneira Sino da Romaneira 2010, $20.00
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