It is believed that the first grapes were brought to Portugal around 2,000 BC. The Phoenicians brought wine making to the entire Mediterranean region and this was taken over by the Romans when they chased the Celts away from the lands. The culture of wine was truly established around 200 AD, when Christianity took over and incorporated wine in their various religious ceremonies.
Various tribes and cultures invaded Portugal over the years, including the Romans and the Moorish. The country was lucky enough not to come under Muslim rule until much later, meaning the wine production continued to flourish for hundreds of years. Eventually, Muslim rule did take place, but it was quite quickly taken over again by the Christians, bringing the temporarily halted production of wine back on the map.
Portuguese wines have always been particularly popular with the British Empire. Whenever Britain was at war with France, its demand for Portuguese wines seemed to go up. As such, in 1386, the Treaty of Windsor was established, which allowed for more wine to be imported from Portugal to England. Wine from various reasons was taken to the country, including from the North West, Vinho Verde and even the Lisbon areas.
Because Portugal has always been a seafaring nation, it was reasonably easy for the country to export its wine across the globe. However, it isn’t just the case that Portugal was able to export, it is also the case of Portuguese wines simply being incredibly good, meaning they should be exported for the world to enjoy.
White and Red Varieties
There are both white and red grapes used in Portuguese wines, and many of the wines are very fruity in nature. The white Alvarino, for instance, is one of the best white grapes in the country, grown mainly in the north. It has a very full body, but its fragrances are very subtle. It is generally used in young wines, although it does age well. The wines have various undertones, including lemon, peach, lychee, passion fruit, jasmine, orange zest, lemon balm and orange blossom.
The Alfrocheiro is a red grape, growing mainly in the south of the country. Its flavour often reminds people of ripe strawberries and blackberries, being very fruity with excellent tannin levels. The grape is quite hard to grown, requiring a lot of attention, particularly in terms of controlling surrounding vegetation. It is also a grape that is more prone to diseases.
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