Did you ever hear of Green Wine? Discover one of Portugal's liquid treasures

Did you ever hear of Green Wine? Discover one of Portugal's liquid treasures

Did you ever hear of green wine?" If not, get ready to embark on a captivating journey into Portugal's hidden treasure: Vinho Verde.

As we explore the lush valleys of the Minho region, I'll unravel the mysteries of these tantalizing elixirs, steeped in tradition and history. So pour yourself a glass, and let's dive into the enchanting world of Portugal's Green Wines


Is the Wine really Green?

Vinho Verde, quite literally ‘Green Wine’ is not a grape variety, but a DOC for the production of wine. The name means "green wine," but translates as "young wine", with the wine being released in 3-6 months after the grapes are harvested.

The wine can be made into red, white or rosé, even a sparkling, a late harvest or even a Brandy!

The most common is the lightly sparkling white wine, which has a beautiful, transparent colour and such a freshness that it lends itself well to the fresh fish and seafood enjoyed on the coast of Northern Portugal and indeed along the Minho river.

Green, refers to the young age of the wine, rather than anything to do with its colour.

In fact, the only thing that really makes a Vinho Verde a Vinho Verde is that it comes from the Vinho Verde region, which refers to this quintessentially Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country, near the border with Galicia in Spain.

Green Wine Today

The modern-day 'Vinho Verde' region, originally designated in 1908, includes the old Minho province plus adjacent areas to the south. In 1976, the old province was dissolved.

Grape varieties used to make white Vinho Verde range from a Loureiro which tends to be floral, to a Trajadura which tends to have a steely flavour. Arinto (also goes by the name Pedernã ) tends to be minerally, as does Avesso but with combined creamy notes, and Alvarinho (the same grape as Northern Spain’s Albariño ) tends to be minerally and slightly fragrant.

Try a few varieties when you ride the Vinho Verde route and see if you can’t become an expert on the differences. It is the perfect wine to sip on a sunny afternoon, perhaps with some fresh fish after a rolling ride through the Minho valley.


Portuguese bread with a bottle of Muralhas de Monção vinho verde wine


Green Wine buyers Guide

As I've mentioned, Vinho Verde can be produced from a blend of both white and red grape varieties. White Vinho Verde is the most common and is made from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties such as Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, and Avesso.

These wines are usually light, crisp, and slightly acidic, with citrus and green apple notes. Red and rosé Vinho Verde wines are also produced but are less common.

Vinho Verde wines are often low in alcohol content and have a slight effervescence, which makes them a refreshing choice for warm weather or as an aperitif. They pair well with seafood, salads, and light dishes.

While the lightest, most memorable green wines I have tasted in Portugal have been made by small scale local producers, here are my top 3 favourite - commercially available Vinho Verde wines:

  1. Quinta da Lixa Aromas das Castas Vinho Verde: A blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, this wine is known for its elegant, aromatic profile with hints of peach, apricot, and citrus.
  2. Anselmo Mendes Muros de Melgaço Alvarinho Vinho Verde: This wine is made exclusively from Alvarinho grapes, showcasing a complex and intense aroma, with a long and persistent finish.

  3. Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde: Made from Loureiro grapes, this wine offers a fresh, elegant, and citrus-driven palate with a floral aroma.

If you live outside Portugal, here are 3 popular Vinho Verde brands you can find usually find outside Portugal are:

  1. the cheap and cheerful Casal Garcia , which comes in white, rosé and sparkling,
  2. the best selling Muralhas De Monçao (Branco) or
  3. the pure, mineral and elegant Palacio da Brejoeira (Alvarinho).


Alvarinho green wine label


How to experience Green Wine in Portugal

A 17th century Manor House with lush gardens and private vineyards set the perfect scene to end a day of riding through gorgeous valleys exploring the many green way cycle paths running parallel to the crystal rivers.

Valença do Minho in the Green Wine region of northern Portugal

The evenings are warm and topped off with a cool glass of delicious, light green wine tickling the palate in a perfect match for a fine dinner of local seafood - remember you are never far from the sea in the Minho.

With a comfortable balance of small back roads and scenic cycle paths, this tour offers riders of every level a great introduction to Portugal , one of Europe's least known and most charming countries.

If you're looking for a magical escape this summer we've got the perfect trip for you! Cycling through the Minho Green Wine region feels like you've stepped back in time to an ancient fairy tale land.

On this easy going tour we roll through medieval villages with colourful folk festivals hailing from pagan times through to the coast of northern Spain where Columbus' ships landed on their return from the New World.

If it sounds like a curious part of the world to you, that's because it is! Get in touch to find out more.

Take a bottle home with you and try this easy risotto next time you want to reminisce over your Portuguese travels! 

Bonus Recipe: Spring Vegetable Risotto With Vinho Verde and Lemon Gremolata

By @Wonderland_Food
Vinho Verde, a bright, young wine with a light sparkle to it, works very well with fresh, spring vegetables like peas, and cherry tomatoes. You could also add asparagus or green beans, finely sliced in place of peas and the dish would be equally as vibrant.

I use aborio rice when I can find it but you can use any short round rice variety (like Spanish redondo rice) but the amount of liquid required and cooking time might vary.

Patience is required of this dish, but usually I find I am reaching my limit just as it comes together and then you have a very sumptuous, satisfying pan of umami-rich goodness in front of you.

Making this dish is a good excuse to open a bottle of Vinho Verde, cooking with wine can be fun, sometimes you can even put it in the food!

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a main dish (Vegan-friendly**, Vegetarian, Gluten Free):

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3-4 medium sized portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano leaves
  • 1 cup arborio rice (or redondo, if you are in Spain)
  • 2 cups water, plus a little more if required
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (chickpea if you can get it, or use vegetable stock powder)
  • ½ cup Vinho Verde (or a young, dry white wine)
  • 1 cup baby peas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about half a lemon)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley
  • *Optional: 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • **Optional: parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper


  1. Measure out peas, water, rice and then wine to have on hand as you cook. Zest the lemon.

  2. Chop the shallot and mushrooms. Gently fry both in olive oil until soft and sticky, about 5 minutes.

  3. Raise temperature to medium. Add rice and oregano, stir around until shiny and then add wine. Cook off alcohol and let wine evaporate almost completely.

  4. At the same time, in a separate small saucepan, stir miso into water until dissolved and bring up to a hot temperature, but don’t boil. Then turn to low and start to add small amounts of the liquid to the rice mix, adding about ¼ cup each time. Wait until it’s absorbed then add more.

  5. When the rice is al dente, add peas and stir in gently.

  6. Chop parsley finely together with the lemon zest.

  7. When all liquid is absorbed, check for doneness, if still a little crunchy, add a little splash more water and cover with a lid or tin foil to absorb the rest of the liquid.

  8. When ready, sprinkle over lemon and parsley gremolata, *tomatoes and season with a little sea salt and ground black pepper.

Serve with icy glasses of white Vinho Verde and grated Parmesan cheese** if you want a cheese hit with your rice.



For more Iberian travel inspired recipes go to WonderlandFood.Online

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