Follow the Vinho Verde Route
While in Portugal, be sure to sample vinho verde, the young “green wine” created from grapes grown on the cooler slopes of northwest Portugal. Vinho verde grapes are not allowed to mature before they’re harvested, resulting in an acidic, floral finish with a light effervescence and just a touch of sweetness.
The Vinho Verde Route leads travelers through the entire Minho region, south to the Vouga River. There are eight different itineraries to follow along the route, and five thematic itineraries, including cities and towns, the mountain route, the quintas route, the route of the monasteries, and the beach route. Whichever path you choose, be sure to make a stop at Quinta de Soalheiro, located in Melgaco — the most northern part of Portugal. It’s one of the more charming and authentic quintas at which to sample vinho verde.
Order a Glass of Madeira
Madeira is the other best-known wine from Portugal, produced in the tropical climate of one of Portugal’s two island regions. Madeiras range from dry to sweet, and come in four major styles. Popular wine houses to know in Madeira are HM Borges, Henriques & Henriques, and J. Faria & Filhos. Experts recommend seeking out a glass of 10-year Madeira, which will be more complex and dynamic than less-developed blends.
Grab a Table at a Lisbon Wine Bar
Though not known for its own production of wine, Lisbon is a central location where travelers can sample all the wines of Portugal at one of the city’s many well-stocked wine bars.
Small in size and cramped on space, BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto proves that big things really do come in small packages. With more than 200 different wine bottles from which to choose, you’ll be hard pressed to find something you don’t like underneath one of its many corks. Wines are served by the glass, and a friendly and informative staff is on hand to match the perfect glass to your mood.
For wine paired with a bit of regional history, visit the Old Pharmacy Wine Inn. Built inside an early-20th-century apothecary, this is one of Lisbon’s most popular wine bars. The interior has been kept relatively true to its original form, with cabinets that once held prescriptions now stocked with wine bottles. The majority of Portugal’s wine regions are in play here. Light bites include charcuterie boards, which perfectly complement the wines in stock.
A Lisbon favorite, the variety at Grapes & Bites is dizzying, with some 1,000 labels in stock. The wines, sold by the glass, are representative of almost all the wine regions in Portugal. The bar is built into an 18th-century coach house, with arched walls that are evocative of a wine cellar. (How apt.) A menu of traditional petiscos rounds out the experience.