The Portugese Madeira islands, off the coast of Africa, have been producing wines for over 600 years. These islands lend their name to the famous fortified Madeira wine, which is produced on the islands. Madeira is quite unique as it’s made in an oxidative style, and the wine is heated after fermentation, either in steam rooms, or via piping that allows hot water to circulate around the tanks containing the wine. This process results in wine that has immense longevity. Top Madeiras can last hundreds of years. The most planted grape variety is Negro Mole. Other grape varieties cultivated are Sercial, Verdehlo, Bual and Malvasia (also known as Malmsey).
Situated in the south, the Alentejano is one of the largest wine-growing regions in Portugal. It is divided into eight subregions, or DOC’s, namely, Reguengos, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Évora, Granja-Amareleja, Portalegre and Moura. This region produces ground-breaking, elegant, modern red wines, as well as quaffable, upfront fruity table wines. The white wines are aromatic with tropical fruit notes.
Some of the red varieties cultivated include Trincadeira, Aragone, Castelão and Alicante Bouschet. Popular white grape varieties include Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Arinto.
Vinho Verdes Region
Vinhos Verde, which comprises eight subregions, is located in the North-West of Portugal, bordering Spain. White and red wines are produced in this region, but it is particularly well-known for its dry, fresh white wines, that are slightly efferverscent. The most well-known grape varieties cultivated, are Alvarinho and Loureiro.
The Douro Valley Region
The Douro Valley, which is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, is the most famous wine region in Portugal. Its most famous export is its Port wine, a fortified wine, which can potentially be aged for decades. Good quality red wines are also produced, which range is style from light-bodied, fruity reds, to rich wines that are reminiscent of Burgundian wines. Well-known grape varieties cultivated in the Douro include Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cᾶo, Toriga Nacional, Bastardo and Tinta Amarela.
This is Portugal’s most prolific wine region, producing vast quantities of inexpensive red and white wine.
This region produces fruit-driven, spicy red wines and light-bodied whites.
Located on the west coast, south of Lisbon, this area is famed for its fortified Muscat dessert wine. Good quality red and white table wines are also produced.