The Vinho Verde region gets its name from the many shades of green that dapple the terroir and which are reflected in the dazzling hues of the local wines. Nestled in northwestern Portugal, the landscape benefits from natural conditions that are especially favourable to winemaking. The region offers a surprisingly broad array of high-quality labels, from red to rose to sparkling. Making up over 86% of the production, the whites remain the best known.
While Vinho Verde wines are always a great choice for drinks on a sunny afternoon, they’re so much more! Their freshness and finesse make them a versatile choice for any occasion, in any season. Portugal is celebrated for its excellent wines, as well as for its unique and accessible gastronomy, so why not pair them? Here are five great recipes and a Vinho Verde to go with them to add some Portuguese piquant to your next meal.
1 – Cod fritters and Borges Quinta de Simaens Vinho Verde 2020
Bolinho de bacalhau or pastéis de bacalhau—cod fritters—are a staple of Portuguese cuisine. These deep-fried delights of fish, potato and sweet pepper are great with cocktails and alongside a main dish.
Pair them with a fresh and light Vinho Verde with plenty of character, like Borges Quinta de Simaens Vinho Verde 2020. The Borges estate, which has been making wine for over 115 years, has created this excellent blend of four of the region’s indigenous varieties: alvarinho, loureiro, arinto and azal tinto. Bright and fruity, the wine has strong citrus notes that bring out the pineapple and passionfruit in a delicate flavour balance that is an ideal counterpart to the fritters.
2- Portuguese-style grilled chicken and João Portugal Ramos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2020
It is impossible to even think about Portuguese cuisine without mentioning grilled chicken. As mouth-watering as it is emblematic, the dish requires a whole chicken, a spice mix and plenty of time on the grill. The recipe is simple to make at home, especially if you have a charcoal barbecue. As always, the secret is in the sauce, so make yours any way you like.
The recipe asks for a ½ cup of white wine, but you may not want to sacrifice even a drop of João Portugal Ramos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2020! If you prefer your chicken without too much of a kick, serve the wine with dinner instead. Bright and forthright, its enjoyable minerality and complex aromas of flowers and citrus make it a refreshing pairing with grilled chicken on a sunny day.
3- White fish, avocado, cilantro and lime tacos and Aveleda Vinho Verde
Aveleda is a true classic that needs no introduction. Fonte, the name of the cuvée, means fountain in Portuguese and certainly speaks to the wine’s refreshing side. Vibrant and crisp, it unfurls notes of citrus, chalk and Granny Smith apple. Though its lower alcohol content and brightness make it a great pre-dinner choice, you shouldn’t hesitate to serve it with these simple tacos. If you can, choose cod—a key ingredient in Portuguese cuisine.
4- Grilled sardines and Quinta da Lixa Aroma das Castas 2018
The other iconic fish in Portuguese cuisine is the sardine. Usually eaten from June to September, when the fish is at its fattest, sardines are grilled slowly and served whole with quite a bit of salt. This simple and tasty dish will complement Quinta da Lixa Aroma das Castas 2018, a fresh and dry blend of alvarinho and loureiro whose minerality really suits the fish. The wine’s lengthy aromatic finish will help prolong the pleasure of a delicious meal.
5- Stuffed calamari a la plancha and Azevedo Alvarinho Reserva
Inspired by the Iberian Peninsula, this recipe gets its Portuguese flair from chouriço and a few drops of piri-piri sauce, if you like things spicy. Serve it with Azevedo Alvarinho Reserva, a decadent and candid Vinho Verde with aromas of apricot, peach and tropical fruit. Rich and well-balanced, it has lemony and mineral notes that are a great match for the calamari!
In partnership with Vinho Verde wines