What is Vinho Verde? 5 things I didn’t know about this perfect summer wine #WinePW

Bottles of Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde and Espiral Vinho Rosé

What is Vinho Verde? 5 things I didn’t know about this perfect summer wine #WinePW

I thought I knew Vinho Verde.  I was excited when I saw the group at Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) were going to be focusing on this wine for August. 

I picked up 2 bottles, a white and a rosé and started to plan my pairings.  Then I read the invitation post from Cindy at Grape Experiences which was full of so much great information!

My plan is to share with you some of the things I learned about this region and the wide variety of wines they make.  Then we will return to those wines that are most easily available and talk about some great pairings.

#1 VEE-noh VAIR-day?  Nope, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong.

I have been pronouncing Vinho Verde wrong for ages.  See, this is a Portuguese wine, not a Spanish wine.  I had been pronouncing it “VEE-noh VAIR-day”.  In Portuguese, this wine is pronounced “VEE-gnoh VAIRD”.  You add that little bit of a “g” in there and there is no pronunciation of the “e” on the end.  So now I will pronounce it correctly, and I hope you will join me in that.

#2 Vinho Verde is NOT A WINE it is a REGION

I spoke of Vinho Verde as a wine.  Imagine my surprise, when upon researching I discovered that Vinho Verde is a DOC.  It is not a wine, it is a region, and this region, while it does produce those spritzy summer wines that we love, also produces much more, but they can be more difficult to find.

#3 There is more than just spritzy white wine coming out of the Vinho Verde DOC

While the region is known for the spritzy white wines that we adore in summer and the rosé versions that you have probably seen also, there is more. They produce still wines that have that mineral quality and great acidity without any bubbles. You will find Red Vinho Verde that can sometimes have a bright pink foam that is a great food wine.  There is also Sparkling Vinho Verde which, as its name indicates, is beyond spritzy and is actually sparkling.  Lastly, you can find Brandy of Vinho Verde.

#4 You can track the history of your wine

Yes!  Right from the Vinho Verde label on the bottle. Each Vinho Verde bottle with a guarantee label has a number. You can insert that number on the Vinho Verde Bottle History page and find out the history of your bottle of wine.

#5 The spritz was a happy accident

These wines, freshly fermented were bottled and shipped out. Sometimes, they continued to ferment in the bottle giving it that spritz.  That wasn’t on purpose.  But…consumers loved it, so now, rather than hope that it does a little extra fermenting in the bottle, wineries producing this style, control this by adding a little CO2 to the finished wine when it’s bottled.

There is so much more!

I really need to dig further into this region.  There is so much more to learn.  You can find loads of information at the Vinho Verde site. Of course, below, you will find all the pieces written by my fellow wine writers in the Wine Pairing Weekend Group who are bound to have all sorts of additional information on the region. They are a brilliant bunch of people and I can’t wait to read their pieces and learn more myself.

But for now…I have two bottles that are dying to be opened, and I promised you a pairing right?

Caiu a Noite

Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde
Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde

So I tried to look up information on this wine to no avail. The website listed on the back label, would not come up. The distributor listed on the bottle evidently no longer carries this wine in its portfolio. The information I found online was pretty vague, with no details on the varieties used. We know the white grapes typically used are loureiro, trajadur, avesso, alvarinho, arinto, and azal.

The 2010 evidently was a blend of loureiro, trajadura, and arioto at least the one available in 2013, (thanks to Dezel Quillen of My Vine Spot for that tidbit). It did have that Vinho Verde Guarantee label so I tried tracking my bottle. It came up with another winery. So I went back to do a Brand Search which told me that the Producer was Quinta Lixa – Soc Agricola LDA. I went back to check the bottle history again and it came up with this same winery. This is listed as a Vinho Verde Branco. My assumption is that the wine was private labeled for the distributor? (If anybody out there has more info I would love it!) It is a stunning label, that looked great with my couch as a backdrop!

This was a Total Wine pickup for $8.99 and there was no vintage listed on the bottle. If the information is correct with the guarantee label, then the wine was bottled on 12/17/19.

Let’s talk about what’s inside the bottle. The wine poured spritzy and was clear and a light lemon color. It smelled first of minerals, a sea spray aroma, with a bit of grapefruit pith and lime. Floral notes drifted around in the background, white flowers, perhaps orange blossom. I did get a bit of something like lanoline mixed in, something like what I get on the nose of a Semillon. It was dry, medium-bodied, high acid, with pronounced flavors of Grapefruit, lime zest, unripe peach, citrus and lime with a lengthy finish. I always feel a bit like I’m drinking grown-up Fresca when I have a Vinho Verde. The alcohol on this is low at 9.5% abv, and while it might seem like the perfect quaffer, I found it tart enough that I needed to sip it rather than swig it.

Espiral Vinho Rosé

Espiral Vinho Rosé
Espiral Vinho Rosé

If you pop into Trader Joe’s then you probably know this wine. The Espiral line is a great inexpensive go-to for a summer party wine. This one does not have a Vinho Verde guarantee label. Finding details and information? Again, pretty tough. It’s a $5.99 bottle, so I suppose I can’t complain. The boys at “About Beverages” on YouTube tried back in 2019. They claim it is a blend of vinhao, azal, and borraçal. (I’d love to know how they tracked down that info!).

Okay, into the bottle. It’s fizzy again, but the majority of bubbles dissipate quickly. It is a rich deep rose color. It sits a little higher in alcohol than the other at 10%. This wine is not complex, but due to the skin contact (richer color), it feels fuller in flavor.

Pairing Wines from Vinho Verde with food

As I mentioned, our wines were simple. We paired them with Fish Tacos. These were simple flour tortillas, with baked tilapia that was coated in crushed tortilla chips and spices. We added an Asian style cabbage slaw with a dressing of white vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice, olive oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, and sesame seeds. We finished it off with a salsa of corn and mango. (I cheated here, this was diced frozen mango and Corn & Chili Salsa, both of which I picked up at Trader Joe’s).

We also paired with a tomato poached cod dish, inspired by Sarah at The Lush Life, I deviated from her recipe to make do with what was in the pantry. This is really simple. I used a can of crushed tomatoes, plus some pre-made sauce and then added herbs and spices. Once this is warm, toss in the cod. I used smaller pieces of cod and let it cook until the fish is done. I also fried up some potatoes with rosemary and made a fresh salad to finish the meal.

  • Fish Taco to pair with asian slaw & mango corn salsa
  • Tomato poached cod
  • Fried potatoes with rosemary
  • Vinho Verde pairing of tomato poach cod, rosemary potatoes and salad

#WinePW – the Wine Pairing Weekend Crew

Led this month by Cindy of Grape Experiences and Liz Barrett of What’s In That Bottle? Do you love Vinho Verde? Or do you want to learn more about it? Join us on Saturday, August 8th (wait…is it really August already?) at 11 am Eastern Time or 8 am Pacific time. Just pop on to Twitter and follow #WinePW.

In the meantime, you can dive into these wonderful articles below. I am learning so much about this region. There are so many wines of this region I have yet to explore, I’m excited to read what everyone else found.

We’ve written about Vinho Verde before

We keep learning about new wines, but we do have some go-to wines. In the summer simple easy to find wines from Vinho Verde, just help to keep us cool in the desert heat. So yeah, I’ve written about these wines before, but now I know so much more. Still, there are some tasty pairings here.

As always be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date on all of our posts.

Robin Renken CSW (photo credit RuBen Permel)

Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.

When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.

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Robin Renken
[email protected]
  • Andrea Lemieux
    Posted at 12:18h, 08 August Reply

    I’ve also been pronouncing Vinho Verde like it’s Spanish. Thank you for the correct pronunciation!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:04h, 08 August

      We did a quick polling today and it seems this is the consensus. There is a little variation…but primarily, no “e” on the end! Here’s to learning something new!

  • Pinny Tam
    Posted at 14:03h, 08 August Reply

    Your tomato poached cod dish looks so delicious and so easy to cook. I totally can see how great of a match btw the Espiral Vinho Rose and this dish is.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 16:51h, 09 August

      Thanks Pinny! It was so easy. I think Wendy did a much fancier version, but I was grateful for the simplicity of the recipe for my dinner.

  • lizbarrett
    Posted at 14:52h, 08 August Reply

    So funny – I , too, have bee mispronouncing it – I even polled a bunch of wine pros and they were, too. Eugenio Jardim from Wines of Portugal set me straight! Great post, Robin!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:06h, 08 August

      Thanks, Liz! I learned so much with this post. I kept it simple, but I can’t wait to dive in and read all the amazing details in the other posts. I mean, who knew that vindaloo was based on a Portuguese dish? Not me! (Thanks Payal!).

  • Martin D. Redmond
    Posted at 15:26h, 08 August Reply

    I find it frustrating when I can’t find out much about wines too!, But it looks like you found a couple of nice wines. I’ve yet to try a Rose Vinho Verde! Love the pairing!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:09h, 08 August

      Typically, I research the wines before purchasing, to make sure I can have information on them. This time, I didn’t and it bit me in the butt! The wines were tasty, but I love getting into the details, the blend, the vineyard and region. Sadly, these seemed like bulk wines. None-the-less, I am left with a glorious region to explore! So much more to learn!

  • Linda Whipple, CSW
    Posted at 16:41h, 08 August Reply

    Got a laugh from your comment “feel a bit like I’m drinking grown-up Fresca.” HA! Thanks for setting me straight on the pronunciation and definitely planning to look up that cod recipe.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:11h, 08 August

      Sarah’s recipe included a chili oil, which I didn’t use. I think Wendy did a similar dish and posted a recipe!
      As to the “grown-up Fresca” that has always been my impression of Vinho Verde. It has been a guilty summer pleasure for me for ages. Funny, I love Vinho Verde now, but as a kid, I was not so fond of Fresca!

  • wendyklik
    Posted at 13:29h, 09 August Reply

    Great information. I have been pronouncing it wrong all this time too.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 16:23h, 09 August

      Thank you Wendy. I love the things I learn, writing with this group!

  • advinetures
    Posted at 14:20h, 09 August Reply

    Apparently we have been saying the name of this region incorrectly too! Thanks for setting us straight and we also love the wines…simple yes but that’s what also seems to make them both versatile and tasty.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 16:22h, 09 August

      It’s true! I just look forward to finding a wine from this region that isn’t private-labeled bulk wine. They are out there! They are just harder to find. And they really are not much more expensive! I’m on the hunt!

  • Nicole Ruiz Hudson
    Posted at 17:09h, 09 August Reply

    I admittedly still pronounce it wrong, even though I know the correct pronunciation, bc of my Spanish background. For shame. I’ll try to do better.

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