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.







Jennifer Patterson

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