The country best known for Port, Madeira and corks is often overlooked when consumers think of red and white still wines – but take note! The table wines of the region have improved dramatically in the past few decades. The winemaking areas trickle down the country's narrow shape, bordered by the Atlantic on the west and Spain on the east.
Furthest to the north lies the region Minho, which produces the slightly spritzy white wine, Vinho Verde. Translated, it means green wine, not because the wine is green, but because it is meant to be drunk in its youth. Vinho Verde is a light, refreshing wine, low in alcohol and with a slight spritz. It can be made with a number of grapes, but the best whites are made with Alvarinho (yep, same as Spain's Albarino). Red Vinho Verde exists too, but not on the export market. For other red table wines, the three most common regions are the Douro, Dao, Bairrada and Alentejo.
In the Douro, home of Port, red wines are made from a few grape varieties including the primary port grape, Touriga Nacional as well as Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). Still red wines from the area are good quality and contain fruity, spicy notes. The Dao and Bairrida areas use Port grapes and the local tempranillo and make high quality, good value red wines. Bairrida also makes a few sparklers. Alentejo is a super big and super hot region in the south of Portugal making reds and whites.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.