At some point in your life you will have only realised “what” you had from the moment you no longer had it.  If you’ve ever lived abroad, I bet this is a constant realisation, probably more predominant during the initial years following the move.  So, when something you were used to having available, suddenly is no longer as accessible, finding that something is exceptionally joyful.

Recently, that has happened to me in – possibly – the most unlikely of places: the Sainsbury’s wine aisle!  Yes, you read this properly… The weather in Scotland has been similar to southern Europe and you may be wondering at this point why you spent all that money on a holiday abroad.  Well, for me this simply reminds me of my other home (the one where I was born) and what I would be doing during this season. Without a doubt lots of grilled fish with local fresh wines.

So, I’d decided on the fish and was looking for that perfect match and this bottle caught my eye: Alvarinho.  This may not mean much to you, but Alvarinho is a variety of white grape originally from the Minho District (north of Portugal). Although it’s currently planted across the world, its exceptional quality is still best achieved (obviously!) in Monção and Melgaço (Minho). Experts say this is due to the distinct climate of the region that contributes to a perfect level of acidity, which would be impossible to achieve anywhere else.  I won’t challenge that!  All I can tell you is that it’s an absolutely extraordinary wine.

Wines from this region are known as Vinho Verde (Green Wine). You’ll be glad to know it’s not because of their colour… They look just like any other wine. Green in this context is a synonym for young as the wines are released 3 to 6 months after the grapes are harvested.  This is a crisp wine with very delicate floral and citrus aromas. It has a relatively moderate alcohol volume, so ideal if you don’t want that hangover feeling afterwards.

Contrary to popular belief, Green Wine (instead of Port) was seemingly the first wine to be exported from Portugal to Great Britain. This is at least the account given by Minho author Conde d’Aurora in one of his works.  It has become so popular that annually throughout April Melgaço organises the Alvarinho & Charcuterie Festivities (Festa do Alvarinho e do Fumeiro) to promote local produce.

Coming from a family from the North of Portugal who just so happen to have some wine production knowledge, it is with great pride that I write and talk about the wines from the region.  I especially like the fact that one needs to taste to judge!  In fairness, I’m a true believer that it doesn’t really matter how highly a wine is rated commercially. Its worth will vary depending on individual taste.  My personal preference on a hot summer day is a light meal with a light wine and Vinho Verde is without a doubt my go-to option, so I was delighted to have found this particular wine so far from home! Needless to say there was some stock taken home as this is supposed to be a looong summer.

This specific Alvarinho is produced by Casa de Vila Verde, who have a history dating back to the 17th Century – they definitely know what they’re doing! To top it all off: It’s vegan & gluten free! A 250ml glass contains c184kcal (a same size glass of red contains c214kcal). What more could we ask for?  Try it! You won’t regret it.

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