What is Vinho Verde?

Region of production, variety details, and pairing suggestions

White Wine on the Beach

 Getty Images / Moment/Rafa Elias

Vinho Verde, pronounced “VEE-nyoh VAIR-day,” is a regional style of Portuguese wine that can be produced in white, rosé, and red styles. Literally translated to “green wine,” Vinho Verde most commonly refers to a young, light-bodied, low-alcohol, and slightly effervescent style of wine that is produced and released from the winery between three to six months after the grapes are harvested. 

Fast Facts

  • Grape Varieties Used: Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Trajadura, Espadiero, Padiero, Amaral, Azal Tinto, Borraçal, Brancelho, Pedral, Rabo de Ovelha, Vinhão
  • ABV: 10-12%
  • Calories in a 5-ounce serving: 98
  • Location of Origin: Minho province, Portugal
  • Flavor Notes: lime zest, golden apple, orange flower, grapefruit, lemon
  • Aging Potential: Short, 1-3 years
  • Serve: Chilled, between 38-41° F 
  • Glass: White wine glass

How is Vinho Verde Made?

Vinho Verde is a region of Portugal, and wine carrying this name must be made from white or red grapes grown and harvested in the D.O.C. (Denominação de Origem Controlada) of Vinho Verde. The region is bounded by the Moinho river to the north at the border with Spain, the Atlantic ocean to the west, a mountainous Spanish border to the East, and the Douro river to the south. Vinho Verde has nine sub-regions: Amarante, Ave, Baião, Basto, Cávado, Lima, Monção e Melgaço, Paiva, and Sousa.

Due to the region’s temperate rainforest climate, grapes are typically grown on trellises above ground to provide much-needed airflow, which prevents mildew and rot. This growing style also allows for more natural cover crops and other plant production alongside grapes, and eases hand-harvesting due to height.

White styles of Vinho Verde are made similarly to other styles of white wine. White-skinned varieties of grapes, most commonly Alvarinho and Loureiro, are harvested for optimum ripeness, maintaining a balance of naturally-occurring sugars and acids. The grape juice is pressed away from the skins, allowed to settle over a period of one to two days, then racked into stainless steel fermentation vessels and allowed to ferment over one to two weeks. Shortly after primary fermentation has concluded, the wine is filtered, cold-stabilized, and in larger-scaled productions, injected with carbon dioxide under pressure while bottling to produce its signature effervescence.

Rosé styles are produced in a similar method, but they primarily utilize red-skinned grape varieties, namely Espadiero and Padiero. Red styles are much rarer to find in the market, and comprise only about 10% of the region’s production. These styles utilize traditional red production methods and commonly employ Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. Red grapes are usually de-stemmed and allowed to soak in their juice to produce color and texture. Primary fermentation is often conducted in stainless steel tanks over the course of 10-16 days. The wine is allowed to age for a short period before bottling.

Vinho Verde Trellis
Grapes in Vinho Verde often grow on trellises to promote air circulation. Portugal Green Walk Tours
albarino grapes
Getty Images / F.J. Jiménez
vinho verde
Getty Images / AnastasiaNurullina 
vinho verde
 Flickr CC / Rui Ornelas

What Does Vinho Verde Taste Like?

Vinho Verde, literally translated to “green wine,” does not refer to the color of the wine itself, rather the fact that the wine is produced and released quite young, and therefore showcases white and red grapes' bright and fresh fruit and floral notes.

Types and Styles of Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde produces white, rosé, and red styles of wine from several different grapes. Regardless of style, the grapes must be grown and harvested within the D.O.C. of Vinho Verde, within the Moinho province of Portugal. 

  • White Vinho Verde
    • The best-known style of wine from Vinho Verde
    • Produced most commonly from Alvarinho and Loureiro grapes
    • Comprises 85% of the region’s wine production 
    • Limeade, grapefruit juice, fresh lemon, orange flower, saline minerality, slight effervescence
  • Rosé Vinho Verde
    • The second most frequently found style of Vinho Verde that is growing in reputation and popularity
    • Produced primarily from Espadiero, Padiero, and Vinhão grapes
    • Comprises 8% of the region’s wine production.
    • Strawberry, fresh green herbs, lime juice, melon, slight effervescence
  • Red Vinho Verde
    • The rarest style of wine made in the region, only a small percentage of this style is exported from Portugal.
    • Produced primarily from Vinhão, Padiero, and Espadiero grapes
    • Comprises 7% of the region’s wine production
    • Blackberry and strawberry jam, plum skin, slight pepper notes

How to Drink Vinho Verde

Serve white and rosé styles chilled in a white wine glass, between 38-41° F for best results. Do not decant this wine. Keep the bottle sealed with its own closure or a champagne closure after opening to maintain freshness. Although white and rosé styles will maintain their flavor profiles after opening if stored refrigerated for up to five days, the augmented effervescence is likely to evaporate within one to two days (depending on how much volume is removed from the bottle). The more air in the bottle, the faster the bubbles will fade.

Red styles should be served in a red wine or Pinot Noir glass between 60-65 degrees. These wines may be decanted or aerated to express more fruit quality, and usually do not contain any effervescence. Keep any remaining wine sealed and refrigerated for best results, though it is recommended to consume this style within two or three days of opening. 

Where to Buy

Vinho Verde is becoming increasingly popular within western markets. Typically inexpensive, the wines are accessible to most customers and average between $10-15 per bottle. Today, the white styles are readily available at most major grocery and retail outlets, especially in the spring and summer months, while the rosé and red styles are most commonly found in specialty stores, liquor stores, or bottle shops. The red styles of Vinho Verde are the most difficult to find, and may not be available outside of major cities. 

Popular Brands

  • Broadbent 
  • Gazela 
  • Casal Garcia 
  • Casa de Soalhiero 
  • Quinta de Aveleda

Vinho Verde vs. Albariño/Alvarinho 

Whereas Vinho Verde is a name from a controlled region of origin in Portugal, Albariño is a grape that commonly grows within Vinho Verde and to the north in the Spanish region of Rias Baixas. The Albariño grape produces similarly flavored white wines and is included in the varieties permitted for cultivation in Vinho Verde. Albariño is often bottled on its own in Spain, and is produced without Vinho Verde’s slightly sparkling signature style. 

Pairing with Vinho Verde

Due to its lively, fresh nature and slight coastal sea salt aroma, this wine is an ideal pairing for fresh seafood. The wine is most commonly enjoyed alongside Portugal’s seafood specialty, bacalao, which is salted and dried cod. Due to its frizzante nature, white and rosé styles pair very well with fried or breaded foods. Moules frites would be an excellent choice to serve with white Vinho Verde, and fried panko-coated or grilled pork chops would shine alongside the rosé.