February 24, 2020
Food & Drink News Opinion

WINE O’CLOCK: Cheerful and still pretty cheap

I first visited Portugal in the late 1970s. The country had not long emerged from a right-wing dictatorship. It was under-developed, poor and very, very cheap.

We bought a nice bottle of wine in a restaurant for next to nothing, then found one in a café for even nexter to nothing and another in a wine shop that we thought was the nextest possible.

We were wrong. In the local grocery shop they poured the wine from a vat, corked it on the spot and charged a deposit on the bottle which was more than the cost of its contents.

You could have run a tractor on that stuff – except there were no tractors to run; they were still using horse-drawn ploughs in Portugal.

Thanks to the EU, Portugal is not a poor country any more and its wines don’t come from the bargain basement. However, the ones it exports tend to be resonably priced, unpretentious, pleasant products.

Gym Dao 2017 (€7.99, Aldi) is typical of the reds. A smooth blend with a floral scent and a slight taste of cherry.

Animus 2017 (€7.99 Aldi)  is similar but with a slightly fuller body. These are  good wines to enjoy with, say, pizza or chicken – they won’t overpower the food. Like many Portuguese wines they have very distinctive, attractive labels.

If you have holidayed in Portugal you will probably have drunk vino verde, young white wines with a gentle sparkle. They don’t travel well but Quinta Da Aveleda Vinho Verde (€14.99 Worldwide Wines Waterford) is an exception.  It is more complex than mthe average vino verde, combining sharp citrus tangs with a soft touch of peach. Good with shellfish.

Prova Regia – Arinto (€13.95 La Touche Wines, Greystones) is said to be Ireland’s best-selling Portuguese white. Again it is unpretentious; clean and crisp, lovely with fish.

Portugal is best known for its fortified wine, which we tend to think of as dark and red. But Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port (€29.90 Le Caveau, Kilkenny)  is a lovely white which should be served chilled and makes a great aperitif.

– MICHAEL WOLSEY

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