Portuguese Wine 101: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best

Portuguese Wine 101: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best

Portugal has a diverse selection of wines, including sweet Ports from the Douro Valley, rich reds from Alentejo, and crisp whites from Vinho Verde.

a row of wine glasses holding Portuguese wine in Australia

Portuguese wine is unfamiliar to the majority of people, even many wine experts. As a result, Portuguese wine is rarely found outside of a specialised store, except for Port, the occasional bottle of Vinho Verde, or even Mateus Rosé. Even so, it's unlikely that you'll find many bottles of Portuguese wine; in fact, there are so few of them that Portugal is rarely even given its section; instead, they're usually grouped with Spanish wines.

Nevertheless, it's worth exploring Portuguese wine. Given that the wine is typically produced using grape kinds that aren't available anyplace else in the globe, it's an intriguing place to visit for serious wine enthusiasts.

The biggest challenge with Portuguese wine isn't just understanding the various locations or grape varieties—there are more than 250—it's getting your hands on the wine. Shops are starting to carry Portuguese wine as its popularity grows, but it won't be long until they run out of what they have on hand. Fortunately, there are more and more online wine specialists from Portugal, and if they are unavailable, there are many inexpensive flights to Portugal.

On the other hand, if you're having trouble locating which regions in Portugal have the best Portuguese wines, then look no further because this article will serve as your 101 guides in finding the perfect one. We also have our very best Portuguese wines are included in this article, so read along to learn more. 

A Brief Glance to Portuguese Wine Making

The Phoenicians are thought to have brought vines to Portugal. The ancient Greeks and Romans made red wines near the Douro River, which is today home to Porto, the second-largest city in the nation (after Lisbon). Since the thirteenth century, wine from Portugal has been shipped to England.

Port, the region's most well-known export, didn't become prominent until the eighteenth century; before that, brandy was frequently added to wine by Portuguese exporters to stabilise it during international shipping to England; this practice increased when war broke out between England and France in the seventeenth century. Over time, the Portuguese created a distinctive fortified wine that gained popularity nationally and abroad.

Before Quintas (small estates) started to break away from larger winemaker cooperatives to produce more individual bottles, the port dominated Portugal's exports.

Portuguese Wine Classification

Portuguese wine was classified in 1756 when the Marquis of Pombal designated the Douro valley as the sole area producing natural port. As a result, there are currently 55 wine areas in Portugal, of which 39 are considered Denominaço of Origen Contolada (DOC).

The over 200 indigenous grape varietals in Portugal blend to make most wines. These blended wines are regionally designated and typically adhere to regional laws. For varietal wines to bear the name of a particular grape on the label, that grape must make up at least 85% of the blend.

Reading Portuguese Wine Labels

To gauge the quality of the wines, the Portuguese regions created an appellation system in 1756.

The following are the primary categories of wine quality that you could notice on the label:

DOC - Denominaço de Origem Controlada or DOC wines must adhere to tight guidelines established by the region's wine commission and come from a geographically restricted area. The number of DOCs in Portugal is 31.

IPR - Indication of Regulated Provenance, or IPR, is a classification for wines made in more recent locations while they wait to be granted DOC certification.

Vinho Regional (or IGP) - Portugal has 14 distinct regional wine regions (vinho regional). Compared to IPR and DOC, these regions have less restrictive wine production regulations. For example, a winemaker in this country can use international grape varieties in their wines.

Vinho de Mesa – Vinho de Mesa is the most basic category of all Portuguese wine.

Top 9 Best Wine Regions in Portugal


Alentejo wine region in Portugal

The Algarve is located in southern Portugal, and the Alentejo is a magnificent wine region that borders Spain to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Algarve to the south. Some of Portugal's best wines are made in Alentejo. Alentejo was dubbed "the new Tuscany" by the New York Times.

Both domestic and foreign cultivars are grown in the area. Portuguese varietals, including Castelo, Trincadeira, and Touriga Nacional, among reds, and Anto Vaz, Arinto, and Ferno Pires, among whites, are included. The most widely grown grape is Spanish Aragones or Tempranillo. The full-body and fruit-forward characteristics of the Alentejo wines are one of their primary characteristics. They are frequently called "New World" wines.

As a day trip from the Algarve, wineries in the Lower Alentejo region can be explored as a day trip from the Algarve. The area's largest town is called Beja. The Herdade de Sobroso is the ideal location to sample regional wines and authentic Alentejo food. Another fantastic winery in Lower Alentejo is Herdade dos Grous, whose reds are renowned for having excellent aging potential.



Algarve wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

Portugal's most sunny region, the Algarve, is renowned for its stunning coastline beaches and easy access to the water. It's also a great place to cultivate grapes because of the region's favorable environment all year. Four separate DOCs (areas with protected designation of origin) spread throughout the Algarve: Lagos, Portimao, Lagoa, and Tavira.

Although Algarve produces white and red wines, the region is mainly renowned for its red wines. The grapes most frequently used to make white wines in the Algarve are Siria, Arinto, and malvasia fina, while the grapes most commonly used to make red wines there are Negra mole, Trincadeira, and Castelo.

There are around 2,000 vineyards and 30 wineries located throughout the Algarve. Many of the wineries provide guided vineyard tours and tastings and are conveniently located near driving or public transportation.

The most exciting part of this region is that an Algarve wine trail follows the coast and will take you to several of the most outstanding wineries in the area. The path connects Lagos and Albufeira with wineries where you can sample red, white, and even green wines (young Portuguese wines that originated in the historic Minho province).



Bairrada wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

Bairrada is quite an important region for its past filled with an exciting history. When Portugal was a kingdom and Coimbra was the capital, it was once the scene of battles between Christians and Arabs. The best place to learn about Portuguese wines while taking in some history.

Bairrada is a special wine-producing area with domestic and foreign grape varietals. The region of Bairrada is known for both its world-class local cuisine and its wine, which is why visiting is so enjoyable. What could be better than combining decadent local wines with mouthwatering traditional cuisine? Make sure to give this wine region a visit every once in a while.


Dão Region

Dao Region wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

While the Dão wine area of Portugal may not be the first to come to mind when considering well-known Portuguese wine regions, it is one of the country's best-kept secrets. It is situated about 120 kilometers southeast of Porto, in the northernmost district of Central Portugal, close to Viseu.

The Dão area is categorised as a DOC wine region, much like the Douro Valley, and its history of wine cultivation dates back to the Roman era. Because mountains border Dão Valley on three sides, the grapes there are shielded from inclement weather. Excellent growing conditions for wine can be found when a temperate environment with lots of sunshine, wet winters, and healthy soil (mostly granite terroir) are combined.


The Duoro Valley

Duoro wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

The Douro Valley, home to the world's oldest wine area, is a beautiful and beautiful location. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the birthplace of Port Wine and is renowned worldwide as a legendary wine-producing region.

An extensive mountain range with steep slopes that descend to meet the Douro River surrounds the valley area. These geographic factors create the ideal environment for producing distinctive wines, such as robust reds and crisp, light-bodied whites.

Grape enthusiasts will find utopia in the untamed, undeveloped area with terraced vines adorning the slopes and breathtaking landscapes.

There are so many incredible things to do, see, eat, and see in Porto that it is a must-see location in this area. The Douro River runs through the city, bursting with personality and traditional Portuguese culture.

You can either stay in the city and tour the wine cellars while sipping port wine, or you can go on a full-day wine tour of the Douro Valley that includes a river cruise and wine sampling.



Lisbon wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

Portugal's capital city and surrounding regions are the country's second-largest wine producers. There are nine wine-producing sub-regions in Greater Lisbon, all of which are unique from one another.

It makes sense to stay a few days in Lisbon if you're traveling to Portugal. The city has a lot of personality and charm. Its attractive features include colorful street art, narrow, cobblestone streets, and vintage trams.

If things can't get any better, you may luxuriate in the low-cost wine "vinho da mesa" from the Lisboa wine region.



Duoro Region wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

This tropical island offers stunning scenery, fantastic weather, delectable cuisine, and excellent wine. The second most recognizable fortified wine in Portugal is Madeira wine, closely followed by Port wine.

You may discover more about the intriguing and unique method of manufacturing Madeira wine while visiting the island. For three months, the wine is held in steel barrels at a temperature between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. These are heated artificially to hasten the procedure.

On the other hand, the best wines can age for up to 100 years when heated naturally in the sun.



Porto wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

Portugal's most well-known and likely finest dessert wine is Port. But, unfortunately, it's a beverage that's frequently regarded as being out-of-date: something your grandparents may have in their pantry or something you might drink around Christmas.

Its reputation is unjustified, and you'll quickly change your mind about the port if you visit Port houses that dot Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite Porto.

Although up to 52 different grape varieties can be used to make port, the most common ones used are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz, Tinto Co, and Tinta Barroca.

If you've ever tried port, it probably came in the form of a cheap Ruby or Tawny. Despite the potential greatness of both wines, you may not be converted by the mass-produced varieties sold in most supermarkets and wine stores. Nevertheless, a Vintage Port or an LBV Port is worth the purchase if you'd like to keep a stock in your home in case of any emergency or special occasions.


Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde wine region in Portugal producing Portuguese wine

This is Portugal's most extensive wine area, extending to the Atlantic Ocean and Porto city below the Spanish border. The lush vistas that descend to the sea result from the humid environment.

Light and delicious Vinho Verde wine are ideal for a sunny day. I advise visiting the province of Minho to travel the Green Wine Trail from one magnificent vineyard to the next. The historical monuments and beautiful towns make it the perfect location to sample top-notch "green wines."

Despite the name Vinho Verde means "green wine," you shouldn't be concerned about drinking something that looks like grass. This category includes red, white, and rosé wines from Portugal.

Because this wine should be enjoyed within the first few years of production, it is known as "green." Which is fantastic for those who don't have much patience for aged vinho and want to get right to its exquisiteness.

Top 12 Best Portuguese Wines at Kendricks Familia Import

Looking for a Portuguese wine online is not hard, but finding the best one is tricky and lucky for you; here at Kendricks Familia Import, we only offer the best of our wine commodities! So read along to see which Portuguese wine is the best for you and your specific occasion.


Fat Baron Shiraz Casa Ermelinda Freitas 2020

This Casa Ermelinda Freitas Fat Baron Shiraz is a traditional peppery Shiraz with a rich red garnet colour and flavours of cherry, oak, and blackberries. This wine is definitely for the Australian palate because it is big and powerful. But, if you're looking for something unique, consider a wine from a new region that honours our great vintners. Consider it the Portuguese pepper jack.

Fat Baron Shiraz Casa Ermelinda Freitas 2020

Region - Portugal - Penisula de Setebul

Grape - Syrah

Alcohol - 15%

Size - 750ml


Mateus Rosé Original

One of the most recognisable brands today, Mateus is a public favourite and one of the most recognisable Portuguese wines. The initial design of its distinctively shaped bottle was inspired by the flasks that World War I soldiers carried with them. It gained popularity, notably in the UK, and is still loved worldwide today. This young, lively Portuguese rose is mildly sweet and has a hint of effervescence. It goes well with seafood or your preferred Thai takeout. It also makes an excellent aperitif.

Mateus Rosé Original

Region - Portugal - Alentejo

Grape - Baga, Shiraz Grapes

Alcohol - 11%

Size - 750ml


Monte das Servas Selection Red 2019

The Alentejo region of Portugal is home to the classy red wine known as Monte das Servas. With grilled beef and a substantial Portuguese Caldo, it is the perfect Portuguese wine, with a well-balanced, rounded, and ideal flavor.

Buy Monte das Servas Selection Red 2019

Region - Portugal - Alentejano

Grape - Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet

Alcohol - 15%

Size - 0.75


Palácio da Brejoeira Alvarinho White 2019

Among the Vinho Verde wines produced in the Minho region is Palacio da Brejoeira Alvarinho. The aromas of apricot and stone fruit are present on the palate, along with a medium level of acidity that is softened off toward the end. This Portuguese white wine is a true masterpiece with a youthful, vibrant, and purely lovely taste.

Buy Palácio da Brejoeira Alvarinho White 2019

Region: Vinho Verde

Varieties: Alvarinho

Volume: 13%

Bottle Size: 750 ml

Winemaker: João Garrido


Porto Cruz Late Bottle Vintage 2003

Porto Cruz LBV 2003 is a late-bottled vintage Portuguese port wine. It has a deep red garnet hue and, as an old port, the aromas of rhubarb and plum, sweet spice, and pepper are present. However, this port is unique because it isn't blended and is left to age for 4-6 years without any interference. The outcome is a magnificently high-quality, unblended port, like a bite of Christmas pudding.

Buy Porto Cruz Late Bottle Vintage 2003

Region - Portugal - Porto

Grape - Douro Valley Grapes

Alcohol - 20%

Size - 750ml


Porto Cruz Ruby Port

Delicious Porto Cruz Ruby Port from Porto, Portugal, has a fruity scent and a slight sweetness reviving and not overpowering the taste.

Buy Porto Cruz Ruby Port

Region - Portugal - Porto

Grape - Douro Valley Grapes

Alcohol - 20%

Size - 750ml

Winemaker: Martins Alves


Porto Cruz White Port

Port Cruz White Port, which comes from Porto in Portugal, is a unique new world port. The ideal wine for dessert is this Portuguese port. It is best served with ice when lounging by the beach or after a hearty lunch with a sweet dessert like tarta de Santiago.

Buy Porto Cruz White Port

Region - Portugal - Porto

Grape - Douro Valley Grapes

Alcohol - 20%

Size - 750ml

Winemaker: Martins Alves


Porto Cruz 30-Year-Old Vintage Port

The Porto Cruz 30-year-old Vintage Portuguese Port is a fusion of four top-shelf, supreme-grade ports that aren't offered to the general public and are aged together in wood casks to produce a harmonious blend of intensely complex flavors. Look no further if you're looking for a gift for someone who would value this caliber of craftsmanship or the ultimate enjoyment.

Buy Porto Cruz 30-Year-Old Vintage Port

Region - Portugal - Porto

Grape - 50% Touriga Nacional, 10% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Cao (Red)

Alcohol - 20%

Bottle Size: 750ml

Winemaker: Martins Alves


Quinta de Gomariz Alvarinho White 2020

A bold Portuguese white wine from the Vinho Verde region, Quinta de Gomariz Alvarinho 2020 is the best one for you if you want a wine with a dependable, lengthy finish. High acidity complemented by a mineral finish and a vibrant scent on the nose, with flavours of pear, kiwi, and freshly squeezed lime.

Buy Quinta de Gomariz Alvarinho White 2020

Region - Portugal - Minho/ Vinho Verde

Grape - Alvarinho

Alcohol - 13%

Size - 750ml

Winemaker: António Sousa


Quinta de Gomariz Loureiro White 2020

The Quinta de Gomariz Loureiro 2020 boasts flowery, honey, citrus, and acidity flavors that are all well-balanced. When paired with grilled fish or oysters, this Portuguese white wine from the Vinho Verde region offers outstanding value for the quality on hand.

Buy Quinta de Gomariz Loureiro White 2020

Region - Portugal - Minho/ Vinho Verde

Grape - Loureiro

Alcohol - 13%

Size - 750ml

Winemaker: António Sousa


Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Escolha White 2020

Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Escolha White 2020 is a Portuguese white wine from the Minho area. Fresh pineapple, green apple, and low acidity make this wine a proper summer cocktail. This Portuguese white wine is slightly effervescent, making it an excellent refresher on a hot day. Enjoy this one with fresh ceviche or grilled fish.

Buy Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Escolha White 2020

Region - Portugal - Minho

Grape - Vinho Verde

Alcohol - 12%

Size - 0.75

Winemaker: José Oliveira


Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Reserva 2019

A structured and distinct Portuguese white wine from the Minho region is Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Reserva 2019. Plenty of acidity in this wine brings out the crisp flavors of lemon, ginger, and cilantro. It is dry and solid on the palate. The perfect complement to laksa or Asian cuisine.

Buy Vinho Verde Azul Portugal Reserva 2019

Region - Portugal - Vinho Verde, Minho Province

Grape - Loureiro

Alcohol - 12%

Size - 750ml

Winemaker: José Oliveira

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Wine Is Portugal Known For?

Portugal produces a wide range of wines, although it is best known for its fortified Port wine, Vinho do Porto. Portuguese seamen started fortifying their wine with Brandy in the 17th century to preserve their wine on lengthy sea voyages to England.

It quickly gained popularity in England and other countries, and up until the 1980s, it dominated Portugal's exports. Independent Portuguese wine estates, or "Quintas," experienced a dramatic increase in the production of wines for the foreign market. Even though many different types of wine are sold nowadays, port is still one of its key exports.

Are Portuguese Wines Expensive?

Portuguese wine has long been under-appreciated because its more prominent and prosperous neighbours dominate the global wine industry. Wine producers in the nation have worked hard in recent years to increase their exports to other markets.

Due to this, many Portuguese wines are incredibly affordable, given their high quality. Generally speaking, a Portuguese equivalent is probably available for less money, whatever kind of wine you like.

What Makes Portuguese Wine Special?

Portugal's distinct geographical setting and long history of isolation from Spain and the rest of Europe have contributed to the country's unique wine culture. About 200 of the various grape varietals grown there are exclusively indigenous and cannot be found anywhere else in the globe.

Wine enthusiasts worldwide are starting to view Portugal in a fresh light, despite the fact that port has long dominated the public's impression of Portuguese wine. It is currently thought of as a new wine frontier in Western Europe that is being eagerly explored.


Give Portuguese Wine a try! Astonishingly, Portuguese wines aren't more well-known given their long history and rich heritage of wine production. Many enthusiasts of fine wine do adore port. But don't be afraid to taste some of Portugal's other delicious wines if you're interested.

You won't be disappointed and if you're having trouble where to look for the right Portuguese Wine for you, then shop around here at Kendricks Familia Imports, and you'll indeed find the right one for you!

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