Explore the best wine regions in Portugal and sip on delicious wines as you enjoy the sun in this stunning wine country
To discover the best of wine tourism in Portugal, we have come up with a comprehensive guide to the major wine regions in the country.
Whether you know much about Port or nothing at all, a visit to Portugal’s wine country is not complete without a stopover in its birthplace, the Douro Valley.
The Douro Valley is one of the oldest and most beautiful European wine regions. Portuguese wines have been made in the area for at least two thousand years -when the vines were first planted. Viticulture developed over the centuries with the introduction of new grape varieties and winemaking techniques by the Ancient Greeks, Celts and Romans.
One of the most impressive things about the Douro Valley is the region’s iconic landscapes: the winding roads alongside the river provide a perfect view of the man-made terraced vineyards on the mountains. Picturesque quintas nestled up on the steep slopes complete the awe-inspiring scenery. Be prepared… driving up these curvy roads might get you dizzy even before you taste your first Portuguese wine!
This Portuguese wine region holds Portugal's highest wine classification: Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and while it is usually associated with Port, it also produces table wine (typically referred to as "Douro wines").
Continental or insular, the wine regions Portugal offers are diverse and captivating. The country is covered in vineyards, from northern Porto to southern Algarve; from Setubal on the Atlantic coast to Alentejo on the Spanish border or the islands of Azores and Madeira.
Lisboa is one of Portugal's wine regions northwest of the city of Lisbon, which makes it the perfect escapade for those spending some days in the namesake city. In 2009, the region was renamed from Estremadura to Lisboa to avoid confusion with the Spanish wine region of Extremadura and to capitalize on the internationally well-known name of the country's capital.
The region stretches from Lisbon to the Bairrada DOC along the Atlantic coast, and it is Portugal's largest producer of wine by volume. Lisboa is classified as a Vinho Regional (VR) region, a designation similar to the French “Vin de Pays”. Geographically, the two largest classifications are VR Beiras and VR Alentejo.
View of Lisbon
It is believed that Madeira's fortified wines keep nearly forever -they have been known to survive for more than two hundred years. What makes the island’s wine production unique is the estufagem aging process, meant to replicate the effect that a long sea voyage through tropical climates would have on the aging barrels.
This Atlantic island has oceanic climate with tropical influences and it enjoys mild temperatures throughout the year. Its landscape is extremely mountainous: that is why the vines grow on man-made terraces on the steep slopes of the deep valleys. Madeira’s soils are volcanic, fertile and rich in organic matter: grapes here have high acidity –a distinguishing feature of the island’s wines.
A little over three quarters of the vineyards of this insular Portuguese wine region are planted with Tinta Negra, which is used to make fortified wines.
Vinho Verde is the largest DOC of Portugal in the cool, rainy, lush northwest. The vines grow in fertile, granite soils which is why these Portuguese wines have a characteristic high acidity.
Although vinho verde literally means “green wine”, its name has nothing to do with its color but rather with its acidity and freshness, resembling unripe (green) fruit. In fact, vinho verde may be white, rosé, red, sparkling or even late harvest. They are usually light and crisp, easy to drink and mostly a blend of grapes. Some vinhos verde can be slightly fizzy but this is by no means a generalization, although many people still think this to be a rule that applies to all the wines produced in this Portuguese wine region.
The Vinho Verde region has a lot more to offer than just its wines: nature, history and traditional flavors will make for an incredible vacation in Portugal’s northernmost region.
Continental or insular, the wine regions Portugal offers are diverse and captivating. The country is covered in vineyards, from northern Porto to southern Algarve; from Setubal on the Atlantic coast to Alentejo on the Spanish border or the islands of Azores and Madeira. Wherever you choose to go to in Portugal, rest assured that you will find examples of the best and most typical local wines round every corner.
Saúde e boa viagem!