Monday, March 30, 2020

Vinho Verde Wines Hit Perfect Note For Light Refreshment

IMG_20200306_181458Seeking a wine that keeps things light and breezy? Look no further than Portugal.

Keep It Mellow

Cheer is in short supply these days. As our nation wrestles with COVID-19 and its terrible toll, we don’t need one more thing to drag us down. That includes the wine we drink.

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The weather in North Carolina has turned decidedly warmer, so it’s time for us to recalibrate our palates. Bring out the chilled whites and rosé!

A wine that’s sure to fit the season and bring a smile to your eyes is Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde is made in the northwest corner of Portugal, and is a category of young wines that are typically low in alcohol and have a spritz of effervescence. Drink them while they are young – there’s no aging required with these fresh-tasting wines.

The Vegan Table

We recently had the chance to taste through four bottles from Portugal: three the traditional Vinho Verde wines and one Alvarinho. To help with our tasting adventure, we drafted our daughter Rachel, a vegan baker and chef, to create a pairing meal.

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For our wines we selected the 2018 Casal de Ventozela and an Alvarinho from Quinta da Calçada. The meal was a vegan delight. The opener was cucumbers in homemade sweet Thai chili sauce. For our entree we savored a Thai yellow coconut curry with brown rice. We finished with chocolate chia pudding with fresh fruits. Oh yes, we had a dessert shooter with pineapple juice, crème de cacao and mango habanero vodka.

Vinho Verde WinesThe Casal de Ventozela delighted us from the very start. In the glass the wine gushed in a welcome display of bubbles. Vinho Verde isn’t a traditional sparkling wine, but instead is frizzante – light bubbles that greet you and tickle your tongue, but then fade. There are light notes of citrus and melon, just perfect for our Thai-themed meal.

Our second bottle was the Quinta da Calçada Terroir. The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) is the very best location for Albariño, or Alvarinho as it is known in Portugal. Quinta da Calçada has been producing wine since 1917, making it one of the oldest producers in the Vinho Verde region. This wine has outstanding minerality, a medium-full body with notes of peach and lemon with a touch of salinity.

The Seafood Table

For our second pair of wines, we moved our meal outside and switched our focus to seafood. It was a gorgeous evening on the patio that later turned into a romantic night under the stars. The Green Dragon prepared cedar plank salmon and shrimp with roasted asparagus and rice. Our meal began with the Manuel Costa & Filhos Melodia Rosé. This is an enticing wine made with Espadeiro and Touriga Nacional grapes. Whereas the other wines painted their canvas with citrus and tree fruit, the rosé was a bright bouquet of red cherries and strawberries. The acidity makes this a great food wine and it blended seamlessly with our shrimp and salmon.

As our evening continued we opened the Encosta do Xisto Vinho Verde. Xisto refers to the local shale, which is made from a mixture of mud, clay and tiny quartz and calcite fragments. This is a dry wine with the pleasing initial fizz. Flavor notes include green apples and peach.

Portuguese wines not only taste delicious, the price is easy to digest too. Many Vino Verde wines are available at prices $10 and below. Enjoy these fresh wines to give your morale a boost and your next meal some zip.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

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