Portugal is a grape lovers paradise where you can find medieval castles on majestic cliffs and white powdered sands next to bustling cities. As one of the oldest nations in Europe, Portugal famous for glorious weather, rich history, bustling cities and exquisite cuisine. However, an especially wide variety of grapes has created another attraction for which the Portuguese are now famous – wine!
But what makes the wine and wine regions of Portugal so interesting?
Believe it or not, there are 14 wine regions in Portugal and each one is entirely different. That is to say, some wine regions in Portugal are known for specialising in a particular style or grape. And every region has a different landscape and setting to get lost in. Visiting these wine regions in Portugal is a great way to explore the country, while experiencing the complex taste and secular wine-making traditions in each area.
While Port wine is undoubtedly the most famous, there is a different type of wine for everyone and a variety of grapes in each region to impress any connoisseur.
Before moving onto the best wine regions in Portugal, here is some information about wine classifications.
About the Wine Classifications in Portugal
Vinho de Mesa – The most basic type of table wine in Portugal
Vinho Regional – Slightly better than table wine, but subject to fewer regulations that IPR or DOC wines.
Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) wines – Quality wines subjected to lots of regulations.
IPR or VQPRD: IPR wines and VQPRD wines are yet to achieve DOC status.
QVR – 85% of grapes in QVR wines must be grown locally.
VEQPRD – Sparkling wines that come from a demarcated region.
Note – This is information only (It’s not necessary that you know these classes).
Now, let’s take a look at some of my favourite wine regions in Portugal…
The 5 Best Wine Regions in Portugal
The Vinho Verde Wine Region
Located in the north, and near the Atlantic, the Vinho Verde region experiences a wet climate that produces very green, stunning scenery. This region is easily accessibly from Porto and the Minho province, making it a fantastic day trip. It’s also home to a dedicate “Green Wine Trail”, along with many historic sites and attractions.
The Vinho Verde region is the biggest wine region in Portugal and best known for producing white wine. Aveleda is one such wine that visitors seem to love from here. However there are many other notable wines that use grapes, including the avesso, arinto, and trajadura varieties. As for the taste, Vinho Verde wine tends to be quite fruity and light. The perfect wine for sunny afternoons in the countryside or lively evenings in the cities.
Greater Lisbon Wine Region
Lisbon is the stunning Capital of Portugal and is a hive of activity for tourists wanting to get out and about. But the surrounding region is home to some of the very best wine in Portugal. In fact, Greater Lisbon is the second biggest producer of wine in Portugal, consisting of many sub-regions and endless vineyards. Some of these wines are famous for being inexpensive, such as the cheap and cheerful “Vinho da mesa”, but there’s something for every taste and budget. If you fancy more specifics, Colares is a popular wine sub-region near Sintra National Park. Which means you can take in nature, castles and stunning coastlines, while sampling some of the best wines in Portugal.
Related Post: Be sure to ride the famous Tram 28 whilst in Lisbon
Bairrada Wine Region
Bairrada is located near the ocean which means it’s another wine region in Portugal that takes a lot of rainfall. However, the warmer months still allow for a reliable ripening season, which is down to a big thermal amplitude. This is a phenomenon which helps produce some especially acidic grapes and a certain freshness that you’ll notice in every wine from the region.
Along with the great wine, Bairrada is an exciting place to explore! It was once a major historical site and the fighting ground between the Arabs and Christians many years ago. Alongside its history, top things to do in the area include the umbrella sky project, Buçaco National Forest and the Cascata da Cabreia waterfall. The food is also sublime and another reason not to miss out on this amazing wine region in Portugal.
Altentejo Wine Region
Altentejo features quite a rugged and hilly landscape, with small beaches along the coastline in between. It’s also home to castles, dolmens and UNESCO World Heritage sites. It provides a great outdoor adventure, facilitated by the likes of hiking trails, recreational areas and guided bird-watching tours. But Altentejo is all about the red wine and probably best known for full bodied and high alcohol wines. Meaning you can expect an encounter with some very rich and wild aromas from tannin-rich wines such as Trincadeira and Alfrocheiro. That being said, Arinto, Antão Vaz and Roupeiro are popular grapes that local winemakers use to produce white wine. You might notice how Altentejo is featured heavily on wine menus and supermarket shelves around the country and this is due to huge wine production levels in the region.
The Douro Valley Wine Region
Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in Portugal and the home of the famous Port wine. The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a truly awe-inspiring part of the countryside. With a huge mountain range along one side and Douro River at the bottom, this is possibly the most spectacular wine region in Portugal. These features also help create the ideal climate for wine-making, made evident in the crispy whites and full-bodied reds on show. In spite of being so close to Porto, this region also feels rather wild and remote and the dramatic scenery makes this an obvious first choice for grape lovers when it comes to wine regions in Portugal.
You might want to visit for the sunny climate and white-powdered sands but the wine regions in Portugal are not to be missed. In many ways, exploring these regions offers a much deeper or more authentic experience. And one that not only brings fine wine and delicious food, but also beautiful scenery and landscapes.
All regions are easy to visit by yourself or through organised tours depending on your plans and budgets.