Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Portugal's Vinho Verde

The guy at Trader Joe's was loading up. Slowly and carefully, he layered the bottom of his cart with rows of green long-necked wine bottles. "This is the only place I can get my Vinho Verde," he explained to no one in particular as the curious watched his stacking ritual.

For only $3.99, it made a what-the-heck buy. The back label says to store it upright and warns against gas or air-pumping openers, indicators of a ready-to-drink bubbly in need of a good chill.

Vinho Verde means green wine in Portuguese, as in young and perhaps a bit unripe. The white wine is a blend made from local grapes grown in Portugal's far north Minho region and one of the lightest whites you'll find. TJ's Espiral Vinho Verde pours pale straw in color, a frizzante with tiny bubbles that open up citrusy aromas with clean and crisp lemon-lime flavors. There's nothing too complex here – it might remind you of Sprite for grown-ups, minus the sweetness.

Like most Vinho Verde, the Espiral is low in alcohol (9% by volume). As the desert warms up, it can make a decent choice as a light poolside refresher to try at your next backyard party, whether for one or, at this price, 20 of your closest friends. Try it as an aperitif or serve it with lime-infused dips and foods such as guacamole, ceviche, salads or light fish and chicken dishes.

Let us know how you like it and whether you find another Vinho Verde elsewhere worth trying. The guy we saw just might clean out TJ's supply.

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