As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, we think back to all the beverages we’ve written about to accompany the traditional Irish meals celebrated on this day.
By Lou Campoli
As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, we think back to all the beverages we’ve written about to accompany the traditional Irish meals celebrated on this day. We’ve talked about Irish beer, Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and flavorful wines.
This year we are going to look at a wine totally unrelated to St. Patrick’s Day except that it is green. Well, not REALLY green — Vinho Verde. The literal translation of this northern Portuguese wine is “green wine.” But the “green” here refers not to the color (Vinho Verde may actually be white, red or rosé) of the wine, but to the age of the wine; that is, “green” as in “young,” and intended to be consumed within its first year.
Vinho Verde, as with many European wines, is not the name of the grape. Rather it is the name of the region in northern Portugal where this wine is produced. Wine has been made in this there since Roman days, and the first recorded winery was mentioned in 870 AD.
Vinho Verde wines can be made from a host of local white and red grape varieties. My favorite white grapes of the region are alvarinho and loureiro. While all white Vinho Verde wines are very light and high in acidity, those based on alvarinho have slightly more body and those made from loureiro are more aromatic. The white wines show floral and fruity notes, and have a bit of fizziness to them, making them very refreshing.
The red vinhão grape makes perhaps the best red Vinho Verde wines. These wines are usually fruity and exhibit peppery notes on the slightly tannic finish. Vinho Verde wines can also be made in a rosé style. These rosé wines are light, fresh and fruity.
Vinho Verde wines are excellent as an aperitif or with appetizers, and pair well with salads, spicy meals, shellfish and lightly sauced seafood dishes.
Some Vinho Verde producers to look for are Casal Garcia, Casal Mendes, Famega, José Maria da Fonseca, Ponte da Barca, Ponte de Lima, and Quinta de Azevedo. You will notice that many of these wines cost less than $10 a bottle, with some as low as $6.
Although Vinho Verde wines are very light-bodied and best appreciated in the hot days of summer, they can also be enjoyed with traditional Irish fare. So, order up some corned beef and cabbage, enjoy some Vinho Verde and get a head start on summer.