It was often said, serve white wine with seafood and red wines with meat. That does not hold true, especially in Portuguese fare. A lighter red wine such as Pinot Noir is perfectly fine to enjoy with fish. Lower in tannins and more acidic, the lighter reds lend themselves to seafood dishes and soups. The heavier reds like cabernet are best served with meats. Leave desserts to be complemented with a nice red or tawny port (your preference) or white port wine.
The Portuguese green wines are made with grapes that are not yet fully ripened which then has less sugar to provide fermentation for higher alcohol content. Relatively low in price, Vinho Verde served well chilled makes a great aperitif on a sultry summer day. Low alcohol, ranging from 9 to 11 percent depending on how long the grapes are allow to ripen, it pairs well with light starters and is especially nice with the Caldo Verde Soup (Green Broth Soup) recipe in my book, Portuguese Homestyle Cooking. Vinho Verdes are under various labels from the older names like Casal Garcia (9%), Joao Pires (11%) Alvarinho to newer ones of like Aveleda, Santola, Olaria and more. Some have more effervescent than others. A tasting will help you decide which you prefer. Add a strawberry to a glass of Casal Garcia and it completes a summer treat.
Some popular Portuguese reds: full-bodied – Cabeca de Burro Reserva , 2010 (14%)Douro, from Obidos, (one of our favorites) the Quinta de S. Francisco, 2010, (13.5%), can be served with fish as well as meat, or even pasta dishes and the full-bodied -Lisbon’s Beato Nuno (13.5%) 2011 Reserva will not disappoint as well. The full-bodied Dao- Casa de Santar, Reserva 2011, is a bit more pricey (around $24) but worth the extra dollars. Not to be outdone the Alentejo’s Reserva Herdade de Sao Miguel 2007 Reserva (coming in around $39) is also full bodied and perfect for a special occasion. There are many more to choose from and most likely great ones still to come. Alas, so little time, so open one that you like and enjoy it with family or friends over a worthy meal.