Actually, the “Verde” in “Vinho Verde” does not stand for the color green, but rather it refers to green in the context of being young or youthful.

And while Vinho Verde wines are generally considered young (they are bottled within 3-6 months after harvest as opposed to a myriad of others which take years), Vinho Verde has stood the test of time—this region has been producing wines for over 2,000 years!

Of course, as this wine is grown among the lush green hilltops of the Douro Valley, perhaps it is even the remarkable image of the green rolling hills that lends Vinho Verde is green name. In a country of wine growers, Vinho Verde is Portugal’s largest. Nineteen thousand grape growers farm an area of over fifty-one thousand acres of grapevines. Grape growing (and indeed, wine-making and drinking) is so ubiquitous here that many locals grow their own grapes over elegant Pergolas in their backyard. Why merely plant a garden with vegetables, herbs and citrus fruits—when you could also plant something delicious to help wash it all down?

The wines of Vinho Verde are extremely versatile and come in red, white and rosé. Light and fresh-tasting wines, they cannot officially be labeled a semi-sparkling wine (they have less than one bar of carbon dioxide) but clearly possess an unmistakable sparkle or spritz (formally known as pétillance) which gives the wine that extra dash of freshness and pizzazz.

A crisp, vibrant wine, with low alcohol content, Verho Verde (pronounced Veeng-yo Vaird) is one of the most versatile wines you’ll ever enjoy. Pair it with salads, seafood and cuisines of virtually any nationality—Asian, Indian, French, Italian, Portuguese, you name it.

Vinho Verde wines are a blend of grapes indigenous to Portugal. There are 45 grape varieties that are used for various blends. Some of the most popular varietals include Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura. Lately, a few winemakers have begun experimenting with single grape varietals, using either the Alvarinho or Loureiro grape as the stand-alone. Certain winemakers have even played with aging these wines in oak barrels to further develop character and complexity. Of course, the perception that these wines are young wines makes it difficult to hold onto wines long enough to age them. After all, increasing demands for Vinho Verde wines has increased pressure to deliver the wine as soon as they can be bottled.

While white Vinho Verde wines are more often imported to the United States (and account for over eighty percent of all the wines produced), the red variety is often found readily available in their native countryside. It is a stronger taste to be sure, with medium tannins and some sour notes, but quite popular here in Portugal. Vinho Verde rosés, which are made from red grapes, are a taste to enjoy as well.