There are a large number of native grape varieties that can be found in Portugal. These grapes are used to produce a wide selection of Portuguese wines, which include vinho espumante (sparkling), vinho branco (white), vinho verde (green), vinho rose (rose), vinho tinto (red), and a variety of desert wines. Rose wines are made from the red wine that is typical to the specific DOC or Vinho Regional. Many international varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are not typically used, which is one of the factors that make Portuguese wines unique.
RED GRAPE VARIETALS
Typical to Dao, this grape can also be found in Bairrada and Douro. Single varietals can be found in Dao, but it is typically used for blending when grown in other areas. It has a deep color, balanced sugars, and acids, and is spicy with floral notes and black currants and strawberry fruits.
Typically used with other grapes, Alicante Bouschet adds volume and structure, and because of it’s unusual dark juice, produces deeply colored wines.
Baga is original to Bairrada but is also planted in Dao and other parts of Beiras. It can be difficult to grow, but in good years will have high acid, with notes of berries, plums, coffee, tobacco, and smoke.
Castelao is of the most commonly planted grapes in the south of Portugal. It also ages well and has good structure. The flavor profile may include red currants, plums, and berries, and has a rustic character.
Grown in Dao, this grape produces juice that is pale in color, with low acid and is used in blending to lighten more tannic reds. It has notes of blackberry, blueberry, and cherry.
Only found in the Colares region in Portugal, because of the sandy soil in which it grows, this grape is one of the few to have survived the phylloxera epidemic of the 19th century. It has strong tannins and natural acidity along with violet aromas, herbal dark fruit, and subtle saltiness because of the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
Of the types of grapes that are used to make port, this is the most productive and easiest to grow. When used as a part of a blend to make non-fortified wines, the flavor profile can be fruity, elegant, and aromatic.
Known as the “red dog” grape, it is used in Douro port making, but may also be found in Dao as single varietal or blended dry wines. It has a spicy character and intense color.
This is the most widely grown grape in the Douro Valley and may be known locally as Touriga Francesa. It is used in both dry (non-fortified) wines and port. It can have delicate but intense aromas with notes of blackberry and flowers.
This grape is known as Tempranillo in Spain, and Tinta Roriz in the Dao and Douro regions of Portugal. It is also found in Ribatejo, Tejo, and Lisboa. It makes an elegant and full-bodied wine, with a lot of berry fruits and spicy flavors.
This grape is one of the five officially recommended grapes used in Port. It is the most widely planted grape in the Douro and is found across northern Portugal. It makes dense but elegant wines, with notes of blackberry, roses, and wildflowers. It is often blended with Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
This grape is northern in origin but can be found across the country. It has intense flavors and is both floral and fruity, with notes of blackcurrants, raspberries, herbs, and licorice. Wines made with Touriga Nacional have great aging potential.
Known as Trincadeira in Alentejo, and Tinta Amarela in the Douro, it is found throughout Portugal but can be difficult to grow. It ages well, and flavor profiles might include raspberry, herbs, pepper, and floral notes.
Because of the high pigmentation in the skins, this grape is used to make light red wine styles that are deeply colored. It comes from Minho, in the Northern region of Portugal, and is found in red Vinho Verde. Called Sousao in the Douro, it is used there to make port. As a dry wine it is slightly sparkling, or frizzante, and has astringent notes of black fruits, earth, and chocolate.