YOU can have a gentle tremble of a fizz of a wine and a refreshing summer white without breaking the bank or popping any corks. How? With a glass of vinho verde.
There’s something easy peasy about these wines; just open a bottle, sit on a garden chair and relax. Nothing much to think about really. They have a delicate fizz, are mainly light on alcohol, and are laced with apples, pears, citrus and hums of stone fruit. There’s a sea-air freshness about them too, from their northern Portugal homeland.
Manuel Pinheiro of the Vinho Verde Commission says: “The crisp, fruit forward style of vinho verde wines make them an excellent choice in the warm summer weather, and a fresher way to enjoy wine.”
Well if you haven’t tried vinho verde, now’s as good a time as any with Portugal Day on Tuesday. Its probably going to be celebrated more in Portugal to be honest, but hey, it’s a good excuse.
Don’t expect cascading bubbles. These wines have a gentle spritz; an expression of their youth. Look out for the most used regional white grape varieties; alvarinho, loureiro, avesso, trajadura arinto and azal.
Quinta de Azevedo 2013 (RRP £8.99, Waitrose, Majestic, The Wine Society, Oddbins, 11% abv). This is made from loureiro and pedernã grapes and has tippy-toe bubbles which tickle and lift as sprightly lemons and stone fruits entice the tastebuds.
Tapada de Villar 2013 (£7.99 Marks & Spencer, 10.5% abv). Loureiro, larinto and trajadura grapes. This was my favourite of the ones I tried. It was sharp, bright, fresh; lemon, limes and green apples. It has just a little extra depth worth savouring as you watch the birds sing in the trees.
Gazela, (£6.99, Slurp and several independents) A pretty bottle embraces a lovely sherbert refreshing frizzle, with a salty-air finish, from a blend of azal, loureiro, pedernã, and trajadura. At 9% abv it is enough of a wine treat in the early summer lunchtime sun without knocking you out for the rest of the day.
Venturer Series Vinho Verde (Aldi, £4.99, abv 11%) Aldi’s new Venturer series includes this fresh white. The fizz wasn’t as fizzy as the others, but signature flavours of lemons and apples held their hands up to be counted.
I’m sneaking in Sainsbury’s Winemakers Selection Portuguese Vinho Verde NV (£4.75) as it won Silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition on Monday. So you can’t argue with that.
IT’S Father’s Day next Sunday. You might be thinking of buying whiskey (Irish) or whisky (Scotch); gin; sparkles; reds with depth or whites with purpose.
You know your dads better than I do, so it’s not for me to point you in the direction of your preferred treats. But I will point you towards your nearest independent wine merchant.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you won’t get a personal touch in your supermarket. It’s difficult to find an assistant who you can ask “my dad likes this and that, but not XYZ. Can you help?”
Oh, I know, I’ll get my dad some Châteauneuf-du- Pape, you might say. He likes that.
Well, to be fair, he might have liked one he’s tried before, but there are so many variations on the red Pape theme. Why? Well grenache features heavily, but the southern Rhône winemakers are allowed to draw on 18 grape varieties. Imagine how many spicy and rich styles can emerge from that feast of choice.
So seek, and ye shall find, and there’s so much fun in speaking to the experts.