Wine Regions of Portugal


Location: The Alentejo region spreads downwards from Potalegre on the border of Spain, to Evora and nearby towns  situated close to Beja.

Climate & Soil: The area ranges from that of  large open countryside with rich and fertile soil in the south to that of granite hills that border Spain in the northeast.

Grape Varieties & Wines: The red wines of this area have already acquired a certain quality. The white wines, though they are pleasant to drink, are still improving.



Location, Climate and Grape Varieties:
This sunny coastal region produces ruby red wines (turning to topaze with age) essentially from the grapes of Trincadeira and Periquita. It is a light, velvety, light bodied and grape flavoured wine.

The white wine from this region is mild  with a lemon yellowish colour. It is obtained essentially from the Crato Branco grapes and aged in wooden casks, making it a good aperitive wine.



The Bairrada Region is seventy kilometres south of Oporto  between the Vouga and Mondego Rivers and occupies the the triangular area between Aveiro, Bucaco and Coimbra.

Climate & Soil
Argillaceous and limy soil with a predominantly  mediterranean-atlantic type of climate.

Grape Varieties & Wines
The grape vines in the Bairrada Region are grown generally on flat land. Red wine is the main produce with the most famous one being ‘Bairrada Tinto’ which results from a blend of varieties Baga, Joao de Santarem, Castelao and Tinta Pinheira. Bairrada Tinto is a thick wine of grenadine colour with a penetrating bouquet and taste which improves with age.

Other red Bairrada wines are produced using the Baga or Poeirinha, Castelao or Moreto, Tinto Pinheira, Alfrecheiro Preto, Bastardo, Preto de Mortagua, Trincadeira, Jaem and Agua Santa grape varieties.

Bairrada white is produced with the grape varieties of Maria Gomes, Bical and Rabo de Ovelha. It is a very light wine, blonde coloured and is used in the production of sparkling wines.

The white wines from the Bairrada region are produced using the grape varieties of Bical, Maria Gomes, Rabo de Ovelha, Arinta, Cercial Chardonnay and Cercealinho.

The wines are all bottled and have a minimum lay of eighteen months for the red and ten months for the white.



Location, Climate & Soil
This region lies in a loam and limestone soil. The climate here is different from the surrounding regions in that it is cold in wintertime and the summers are mild. For the most, the vineyards are planted in a valley and as such are protected from the winds.

Grape Varieties & Wines
The wine of this region is white and is produced from the grape varieties Arinto and Esganacao.

The wine is greenisih straw coloured, dry and rough while young but after its aging it gains an unmistakable bouquet and taste.

The ‘Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho’ controls the genuineness of the wines and guarantees their quality with a seal of origin.


This is a small region which is found east of Lisbon. This regios produces a fortified wine known as ‘Vinho Generoso’.

Climate & Soil
The soil is limy and has some grabbo.

Grape Varieties & Wines
It is a generous wine made from Galego Dourado, Boiais, Arinto and Espadaneiro varieties.

This wine has a velvety bouquet, topaz coloured with a nutty aroma and slightly dry. It is also high in alcohol content..

Quality control is guaranteed by the  ‘Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho’ that issues the seal of origin.These days the production of Carcavelos wine is scarce due to the expansion of urban buildings.



Location, Climate & Soil
This region is known for its Ramisco vines, planted in soil made of  mainly sand (chao de areia) and clay (chao rijo). The summers are mild but as this region is so close to the sea, it must deal with the maritime winds.

To protect the vineyards, cane palisades are built (some parallel, others perpendicular to the coast). These cane palisades give the coast a peculiar aspect which delights onlookers.

Grape Varieties & Wines
The red wine is produced from Ramisco, the main grape variety of the region. The red wine has a ruby colour and a sour taste when young, but as it ages, it turns aromatic and a light burgundy colour.

The white wine is lime coloured with a fresh and fruity flavour. Again, the wine improves with age.


The Dao Region is situated between Viseu, Guarda and Coimbra and to the east of the Bairrada Region.


Climate & Soil
Granitic soil with some remains of grabbo. This type of soil favours red wines. The winters are very cold and the summers are hot.


Grape Varieties & Wines
The grape vines are protected from the maritime and Iberian winds by the mountains. The wines have common characteristics but there can be a distinction between those of the Northern, Central and Southern Zones.

The red wine is velvety tasting, a ruby colour and fruity flavoured. It is produced by the grape varieties Alvarelhao, Tinta Pinheira, Tinta Carvalha, Bago de Couro and Bastardo. It matures well into a wine with an extremely fine bouquet and a reddish brown colour. The red wine, before being bottled, has to have a lay of approximately eighteen months and a rest of two months after bottling.


The white wine of the Dao region has a light taste and is lime coloured with a fruity flavour. Some of these wines are bottled as sparkling rose. The white wine is produced from the grape varieties Arinto, d.Branca, Barcelo, Fernao Pires and Cerceal.

The white wine has to have a lay of ten months but in this case, the lay off can be processed with the wine in the casks or partially casked and bottled

The origin and quality of the Dao wines are guarenteed by the ‘Federacao dos Vinicultores do Dao, an organisation that also issues the origin certificates for those wines that are to be exported.



The region stretches from Barqueiros to the Spanish frontier. In 1756, Douro became the first wine region to be given its official limits.

Climate & Soil
Wild mountainous district with rocky soil of slate & granite

Man-made terraces from loose stone walls make up the vineyards. The tending and harvesting of these grapes is very difficult and as such, the wines are more expensive than those from other regions. Much of the grape harvest is geared towards the making of Port.

Grape Varieties & Wines
Red      – Alvarelhao ; Bastardo ; Souzao ; Tinta Carvalha ; Tourigo

White   – Gouveio ; Malvasia

The borders of the region produce light, fresh, brilliant in colour and with a fruity bouquet. Those wines from the Douro heartland are deeper in colour, more alcoholic, full bodied and low in acid.



This area is found near the coast running from Leiria down towards Lisbon.

The wines from this district are seen as a source of cheap wine with a soft, fruity flavour and easy to drink.



Madeira is an island  found in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the island from which the fortified wine, MADEIRA, originates from.


Climate & Soil
The rich mixture of volcanic and potash characteristics of the soil found on this island is believed to have been caused by a 15th Century discoverer, Joao  Goncalves Zarco who deliberately set fire to the forests. It is said that the forests were so thick, that the fires lasted for seven years which created this unique soil, and of course, the grape vines adore it. But it was not until the 18th Century that the Madeira drunken in modern times was accidentally discovered. The story states how trading ships used to carry the wine to other parts of the world. It was on such a trip in which the wine was rejected and sent back. The extended time and changes in temperatures on the voyage to and from the destinations improved the flavour. Then, after experimenting, a process named “estufagem”  was designed to help improve the life span of the wine. Today, the wine is subjected to the process estufagem either before fermentation (to produce the sweeter variety) or after fermentation. Estufagem is a process whereby the wine is kept at a temperature between 400 C  to  500 C for a period of six months.

Grape Varieties & Wine
There are four main types of Madeira that are named after the grapes from which it is made.

  • Sercial
    • normally aged for at least eight years, the driest wine of the four types.
    • usually drunk as an aperitif or with fish and is best served slightly chilled.
  • Verdelho
    • sweeterin taste, a medium dry wine.
    • complements  fruity cake.
  • Bual
    • dark and nutty, medium sweet wine.
    • often served as an alternative to port.
  • Malmsey
    • the sweetest and the heaviest of the four types.
    • drunk as an after dinner digestive

Moscatel de Setubel


Location, Climate & Soil
The soil of this region  is loamy, limy and sandy. The region lies near the Atlantic ocean  and has two sorts of climates – subtropical and mediterranean.

Grape Varieties & Wine
The Moscatel de Setubal wine is produced mainly from Moscatel de Setubal and Mocatel Roxo varieties. It is a light or dark yellow wine with a fine flavour.

This region also produces good red table wines. These wines are produced form the Periquita grape and are strongbodied and dry when young which improve as they age.

Port  Wine


‘Port’ is the word which defines the wine made from the grapes grown exclusively in the wine district of the Douro Valley, in northern Portugal. It was first shipped over from Oporto over 200 years ago. At that time it was known as ‘Port wine’.

The Douro Region is a wild mountainous district with rocky soil of slate & granite. The cultivation is difficult as the composition of the rocky soil, together with the steepness of the hill requires the building of innumerable terraces. Port’s qualities can not be emulated anywhere else in the world due to a combination of unique soil quality and  peculiarities in the  climate.

Port is made from the Douro grapes, of which there are over forty varieties. The grapes are picked in September each year and are matured by aging in a cask or in a bottle. The addition of wine ‘aguardente’ (a style of brandy) during the fermentation  helps to preserve the natural sugar content of the wine.

When port wine is young it is of a deep purple colour and is known as “full”. As it ages, it grows gradually paler becoming first ‘ruby’ and later ‘tawny’.

When a vintage is exceptionally good it is kept for two years in a cask and then bottled and laid down for a minimum  number of  fifteen  years to mature. This is the so called  ‘ vintage port’  . This type of port has to be decanted with great care to avoid disturbing the deposit and should be opened a few hours before being served.

Vinho Verde


This region is found on the Northwestern coast between the Douro and Minho Rivers and reaches the mountains of Marao and Geres. It is these mountaind which detain the moist winds from the Atlantic. Five of the main rivers flow in this region giving it a green appearance.

Climate & Soil
The climate is mild and damp with  granitic soil

Grape vines grow high into the trees (vinhos de enforcado) or form shady tunnels (ramadas) along the roads and around the fields. The vines do not touch the ground for two important reasons, firstly, it frees up the land for cultivation and secondly, it protects the vine from damp and parasitic rot.

Grape Varieties & Wine
The wines (both red and white) are picked early and drunk young, thus their name, Vinho Verde (Green Wine).

These wines have a lower alcohol content.

Red      – Borracal and Espadaneiro Tinto. The red is a dark wine, high in acidity (tartaric acid) should be drunk in Summertime.

White   – Loureiro and Azal Branco. The white is a white pale lemon colour,  high in acidity (tartaric acid) should be drunk in Summertime.


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