Portuguese wine has long been a staple on supermarket shelves and has also been around for centuries having been introduced to the region by some of the most ancient civilisations like the Greeks, Carthaginians, Phoenicians and Romans. During the time of the Roman Empire, Portugal had first begun exporting wines to Rome, although the modern wine export industry began in 1703 following the Methuen Treaty.
It was as a result of this treaty and the subsequent wine trade with England that many different varieties of wine began to be cultivated here. Today, there are two UNESCO protected wine producing regions in Portugal – the Pico Island region and the Douro Valley region. There are many local kinds of wines, all with their own distinctive personalities.
For many years, wine has been one of Portugal’s most noteworthy exports, and today it is the 7th biggest wine exporter in the world in terms of value. Its Vinho Verde region is well known and is located in the country’s north west area. It took its name from the fact that the grapes used to make wine in this region are green, or under-ripe. Today, wines from this region are the most exported of all Portuguese wines following Port. White wines are most popular, however Portugal also produces some good reds and, occasionally, roses. The Vinho Alvarinho is one especially notable variety with a higher alcohol content which can only be produced under EU law in one small Monaco sub region.
While once thought of as bitter tasting, Douro wines come from the region that is best known for its port wines. However, they are now becoming more popular thanks to their similar traits to the port that is cultivated nearby.