Commonly used red grapes | Real Portuguese Wine

Commonly used red grapes

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.




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.








Read more
Commonly used white grapes | Real Portuguese Wine

Commonly used white grapes

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.




Alvarinho is one of the first grapes that was bottled as a single variety. It grows mostly along the River Minho in the north of the Vinho Verde region. Typically a full-bodied wine, it can have complex and delicate aromas. The typical profile may include peach, lemon, passion fruit, lychee, orange blossom, jasmine, and lemon balm.


This is found mainly in Alentejo and is one of the top white wine varieties. It is usually a single varietal wine but might be used for blends on occasion. It has ripe tropical flavors with citrus and honey notes. It may also be used in making white port.


Arinto also grows in most of the wine regions of Portugal and is a very versatile grape. In Vinho Verde is it sometimes known as Pederna. It is often added to blends because of its high acidity and may be used in sparkling wines. Flavor profiles may include minerality, apple, lime, and lemon.


This grape is grown in Northern Portugal, predominately in Minho, and is used to make Vinho Verde. Typically a blending grape, it can also be found as a single varietal. The flavor profile may have aromas of peach, nectarine, and mango.


Depending on the region, this grape may also be known as Cerceal or Sercial (but not the Sercial that is used to make Madeira). It can be found in Dao, Bairrada, and Ribatejo. Often used for blending, and may have notes of minerality, lime, and grapefruit.


One of the top varieties in Portugal, Encruzado is very restricted to the DOC Dao. It can be used alone or in blends and has great potential for aging. Aromatics may include roses, violets, light citrus notes, and some minerality.


Commonly known as Fernao Pires, this is one of the most planted grapes in all of Portugal, but is most important in Tejo, Lisboa, and Bairrada. This grape can be used for blending, as a base for sparkling wines, and harvested late to be used to make sweet wines. Typical aromatics include lime, lemon, roses and other flowers, tangerines, and oranges.


Mostly grown in the Douro, this grape can also be found in Alentejo. It is used to make both dry wines and white port, has good acidity, lots of body, and flavors of citrus and stone fruits.


Known as Loureira in Spain, this grape is found in the Minho area of Northern Portugal. It makes simple, refreshing wines with floral notes, including orange blossom, acacia, and linden, and flavors of apple and peach.


This is from the family of grapes that are used to make dry, sparkling and sweet wines. It is believed to have existed for more than 2,000 years and is produced in many parts of Europe and the United States. Malvasia is used to make Malmsey wine on the island of Madeira, and when grown in the Douro it is used to make white port.


This grape is considered to be a mutation on Moscatel Galego Branco and is highly sought after in the making of fortified wines in the Douro and Setubal Penninsula.


Also known as Treixadura in Spain, this grape adds body and alcohol when used to make Vinho Verde. It imparts crisp citrus flavors of lemon, apple, and pear. Traditionally is has been used for blending, but is also being used as a single varietal.






Read more
The Islands: Açores & Madeira | Real Portuguese Wine

The Islands: Açores & Madeira

The Portuguese islands of Açores and Madeira have extraordinary topography and complex terroirs. This enables them to produce some of the most unique wines of Portugal. The Açores are best known for white wines which are grown in volcanic soil and have an intensely mineral profile. Fans of Açorean wine swear they can taste the ancient volcanic activity in the wine; saline, mineral, and maybe even a touch smokey. Açorean wines are made in small quantities, in vineyards that are some of the hardest to work in the world. These wines can be both hard to find and not cheap if you are looking for the good stuff! There are three appellations of origin; Graçiosa, Biscoitos (on Terceira Island), and Pico. The predominant grape varieties are Arinto, Boal, Fernão Pires, Terrantez, and Verdelho. Açores also produces very small quantities of a highly sought after dessert wine similar in style to Madeira. 

Madeira is best known for the world-famous dessert wines of the same name. These dessert wines come in multiple types, ages, varieties, and combinations of the above. It is a complex story of wine, with a patrimony going back centuries. The four noble varieties are Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, and Malvasia, which are all white. They are vinified in order to produce different degrees of sweetness; dry, half dry, half sweet, and sweet, respectively. The most planted grape on the island is Tinta Negra, a chameleon of a red grape, which can be used to make all four styles. Dry wines are also produced in Madeira, but they are fairly hard to come by off-island.






Read more
Beira Interior | Real Portuguese Wine

Beira Interior

Located on the other side of the Serra da Estrela mountains from Dão, and sheltered from Atlantic influence, Beira Interior has the highest altitude of all the wine regions. This region has extreme temperature variations with short, hot, and dry summers, and long and cold winters. Beira has mostly granite and shale soils with quartz veins.

There are three sub-regions, called Castelo RodrigoPinhel, and Cova da BeiraArintoFonte CalMalvasia Fina, Rabo de Ovelha, and Síria are the white grapes of the region, and BastardoMarufoRufeteTinta Roriz, and Touriga Nacional prevail, are found in many old well-established vineyards.






Read more
Algarve | Real Portuguese Wine


The region most impacted by those who came before, such as the Arabs, Phoenicians, and Romans is the Algarve. Known as the ocean playground of Portugal, the Algarve is home to some very exciting wines and historic winemaking areas. Located in the south of mainland Portugal, it is separated from the Alentejo plain by the Serra de Monchique mountain range that runs from the Spanish border to the Atlantic coast.

It is hot in the Algarve, and the wines are drink-now fruit-forward gems with balanced acidity and salty mineral ocean influence. There are four appellations; LagosPortimãoLagoa, and Tavira. With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, the Algarve is a region with a huge amount of potential for growth. Commonly used white grapes in this area are ArintoMalvasia Fina, Mantéudo, and Síria. The most planted reds are CastelãoNegra MoleAlfrocheiro, and Bastardo.







Read more
Tejo/Tagus River | Real Portuguese Wine

Tejo/Tagus River

Just a short drive from Lisbon, Tejo is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Portugal with vineyards planted along the banks of the river since Roman times. Before 2009 the region was called Ribatejo, but since then the name has shortened to Tejo and is an acknowledgment of the river that defines the landscape. 

The river has also shaped the terroirs of the region, creating soils perfect for native grapes. Native red grape varieties include the noble Touriga Nacional - the Portuguese variety par excellence - as well as Trincadeira, Castelão, and Aragonês. Fernão Pires and Arinto Vivaz are white grapes that when grown in this region produce some of the most refreshing wines in Portugal. These native varietals thrive in the warm climate and complex soils, and as a result, Tejo wines are able to maintain high natural acidity and typically showcase high natural acidity with rich fruit characteristics.

Some producers in this region also make liqueur and sparkling wines.






Read more
Setúbal Peninsula wines | Real Portuguese Wine

Setúbal Peninsula wines

Setúbal is located at the edge of a large peninsula to the south of Lisbon, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Tagus and Sado rivers complete the water boundaries. The region has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, mild rainy winters, and high humidity. Only the Serra da Arrábida, due to its high altitude and proximity to the sea, benefits from a more Atlantic climate.

The Setúbal Peninsula was once synonymous with the high-volume output of simple wines. It includes two DOC’s, Palmela and Setúbal, and the IG Setúbal Peninsula. DOC Setúbal is reserved for one of Portugal’s other world-famous dessert wines, the Moscatel Roxo (Purple Muscat) and Moscatel do Setúbal, both sweet and honey-like wines that can age for decades before serving. The red wines of Palmela are made with Castelão, which grows well in the warm sandy soils, and the main white grapes are ArintoFernão Pires, and Moscatel.






Read more
Transmontano | Real Portuguese Wine


Located in the remote northeast of mainland Portugal, and separated from the coast by rugged mountains, the main DOC of this region is Trás-os-Montes, translated as “behind the mountains”. It is a high altitude region and has an austere continental climate with long and hot summers followed by long and cold winters. Soils are granite with some shale and tend to be poor and not very productive. 

Red wines are typically full-bodied with fruity characteristics, and the whites have delicate floral aromas. The Trás-os-Montes region is subdivided into three sub-regions; Chaves, Valpaços, and Planalto Mirandês, arranged along the valleys of the rivers that cross them. The dominant white grape varieties are Côdega do Larinho, Fernão Pires, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Síria, and Viosinho, and in reds; Bastardo, Marufo, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Trincadeira






Read more
Bairrada region | Real Portuguese Wine

Bairrada region

Home to the famous Portuguese roasted suckling pig known as leitão, Bairrada is another region with a very strong Atlantic coastal influence. Nestled between Dão and the coast, red wines here are made from the Baga grape, and has great aging potential.

There is a minerality in the wines that comes not only from the maritime climate but the clay-limestone soils. As one of the first regions to produce sparkling wines, Bairrada is the go-to for Portuguese bubble seekers. Sparkling wines (vinho espumante) are made in both the classic (método clássico), as well as pet nat (método ancestral) styles.

The primary white grape variety is Maria Gomes (called Fernão Pires elsewhere), and others include ArintoBicalCercial and Rabo de OvelhaFor the reds, Baga dominates the vineyards, and is joined by Alfrocheiro, Tinta Pinheira, and Touriga Nacional






Read more
German Natural Wine Fans! | Real Portuguese Wine

German Natural Wine Fans!

We love it when people spread the word about what we're up to. Recently, one of our customers added us to the "where to buy list" on his website and blog. Check out for all sorts of great information about Portuguese wine and wineries.
Read more
PRESS! | Real Portuguese Wine


In the Spring of this year, Black Sheep Lisboa, our brick and mortar location in the beautiful neighborhood of Praça das Flores, was featured in an article about the natural wine scene here in Portugal. The article can be found in Wine Enthusiast, click HERE for the link!
Read more
Minho, the land of Vinho Verde | Real Portuguese Wine

Minho, the land of Vinho Verde

The verdant province of Minho, in the far north of Portugal, is best known for the wine called Vinho Verde. One of the most ecologically and topographically diverse regions of Portugal, it has an extreme Atlantic influence, a vividly green and humid landscape, cool temperatures, and abundant rains.

It is the largest DOC appellation in Portugal, with an area of 21,000 hectares, and is divided into nine distinct sub-regions; Monção e Melgaço, Lima, Basto, Cávado, Ave, Amarante, Baião, Sousa, and Paiva. Monção e Melgaço is the most unique sub-region; because it is protected from direct Atlantic influence, it is the only one that has both maritime and continental influences, resulting in more full-bodied wines with higher alcohol.

The predominant white grapes are AlvarinhoArinto (locally known as Pedernã), Avesso, Azal, Loureiro, and Trajadura. Red grapes are Borraçal, Brancelho, Espadeiro, and Vinhão







Read more
18 results