10 July 2014

Summer of Vinho Verde in Memphis

Vinho Verde continues to produce wines that are a great bargain and go well with the kinds of foods we eat here in Memphis during the summer. It's easy to think that you've only got that little green, slightly sweet wine, but the region has a great deal of diversity and I hope that everyone has the opportunity to explore this delightful region. I've reviewed eighteen bottles of Vinho Verde in the past and with these two am proud to round up to twenty.

With this pair, I've got a slightly fizzy rosé and a still white, yet you could grab both for just a little over $20. I talk a lot about "gateway" wines, and Vinho Verde certainly fits the bill. It's not just about giving someone their first taste of wine, it's also about convincing the beer drinker that, as much as we all love beer, there are other BBQ beverages out there. Ditto for Prosecco, Cava, various Crémants from France... Also, The sparkling Vinho Verde wines are great practice bottles for folks that haven't opened up a lot of sparklers. There's not a lot of pressure so if the cork pops out, nobody's going to get hurt. As I tell everyone, twist gently and let the air pressure remove the cork. No need to hit someone in the eye and dump a third of the bottle all over your trousers.

NV Las Lilas Rosé
Vinho Verde, Portugal
60% Vinhão, 30% Borraçal and 10% Espadeiro
$9, 10% abv.

Fun, slightly sweet with just a touch of fizz and a light profile of watermelon and strawberry. Pair with raw oysters and sea salt.

NV Adega Ponte de Lima Loureiro
Vinho Verde, Portugal
100% Loureiro
$12, 11% abv.

Light and crisp, delicate body with a mineral base and slightly tart touch of lemon. Even better with boiled shellfish. Speaking of which...

I took these bottles along when my friend Melissa invited me over to her horse farm for a shrimp boil on Memorial Day.

Moments after this photo was taken, the aluminum trays were dumped onto the newspaper covering the picnic tables, and we all dove in to eat shrimp and li'l smokies and corn and potatoes as God intended: with greasy fingers and stray kernels in the beard. The Portuguese have their own traditions of pig roasts and mussel festivals, but their wines adapt quite well to our traditions here in the Delta. I hope that as the summer continues, all of you are able to incorporate affordable European wines like these into your American cookouts. It's a great way to connect culinary traditions across centuries and oceans.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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