Your Guide To Portuguese Wine

What wine do they drink in Portugal? Here’s a crash course in Portuguese wine from Max Graham, the founder and director of Bar Douro.
Portuguese Wine
An exhaustive guide to the dynamic Portuguese wine scene.

An explosion of international interest has transformed Portugal over the past 10 years. It was voted as the “Best Tourist Destination in Europe” for the fifth time in a row in the World Travel Awards 2022 and has become a paradise for freelancing nomads and tech entrepreneurs. It is also a melting pot of winemaker and culinary talent, where pioneers are expanding the boundaries of Portuguese wine and food, reviving ancestral techniques whilst finding new ways to express the diversity of unique regional terroirs; from the mountainous Douro, Trás-os-Montes and Dão to the wild Atlantic Bairrada, Lisbon and Azores.

Portugal has a long culture and tradition of winemaking, with a focus on quality as opposed to quantity. You will probably know it for its port wines, or for easy drinking Vinho Verde, but Portugal’s dynamic wine scene has been gathering more and more admirers for the outstanding quality, variety, and unique character of its wines, which are made from over 250 native grape varieties and from 14 wine regions.

FESTA Bottle Shop, conceived by Bar Douro, is on a mission to celebrate Portugal’s dynamic wine scene in the UK. Home to the UK’s largest and best range of Portuguese wines, with over 150 wines in total, FESTA celebrate pioneering growers and cutting-edge makers. Journey through Portugal and discover the country's diverse wine regions, native grape varieties, and heritage techniques. What is Portuguese red wine? Discover elegant Vinho Tinto’s (red wine) from the Dão, iconic ports from the Douro Valley, fresh Vinho Verde from the north, delicious Espumantes (sparkling) from Bairrada or mineral Vinho Branco (white wine) from the Azores.

Vinho Verde:

Let's start our journey in the north-west of Portugal with the refreshing, aromatic and often slightly sparkling wines of Vinho Verde. The region is named after its lush and verdant green landscape, with vines producing youthful wines which are light, fresh and fruity. Scratch the surface and you will also find ambitious, dry artisanal and boutique wines, sourced from thoughtfully selected grape varieties including Loureiro, Alvarinho and Trajadura. A cold glass of Vinho Verde is best enjoyed on a hot summer’s day, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean with grilled seabass or arroz de marisco.

FESTA suggestions: Geographic Wines single varietal Loureiro is deliciously fruity and silky and pairs beautifully with garlic prawns from Bar Douro.


The Douro Valley is a World Heritage wine region with 2,000 years of history. Located 100km east of Oporto, this region contains the oldest terraced vineyards in Portugal and the largest area of mountain viticulture in the world. The Douro is the birthplace of the famous fortified wine – port, but this region also produces some of the best red wines in Portugal (and the world), championing indigenous grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão and Tinta Amarela. In the right hands, the Douro is also producing excellent white wines too, in particular those from higher altitude vineyards of Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio and Malvasia Fina.

FESTA suggestions: Explore cutting-edge white wines from Pormenor and Titan of Douro, or visit Bar Douro and enjoy a Churchills Port tasting flight including Dry White Port, LBV, and 10-Year-Old Tawny.


Surrounded by mountains in all directions the Dão region produces classically structured, elegant wines. Located inland near the Serra da Estrela, the region’s continental climate, elevation and poor granite soils collectively underpin the freshness which drives the hallmark aromatics, line and length. Dao’s red wines are typically blends of Touriga Nacional, Jaen (Spain’s Mencia) and Alforcheiro grapes. White wines are made from its signature Encruzado grape, which can be reminiscent of white burgundy.

FESTA suggestions: Try M.O.B Lotte Tinto packed with wild black berry and cherry-fruit on the nose and palate. For the whites try Quinta das Marias Crudus an ultra-long Encruzado which is fine and persistent, with ripe lemon, steely grapefruit, al dente white peach and salty minerality.


The temperate and wet Bairrada region is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Caramulo and Buçaco mountains to the east, producing fresh wines with high natural acidity. Bairrada is famous for its espumante (sparkling) wines which, like Champagne, benefit from the region’s chalky clay soil. Bairrada is also well known for intense, lighter-style reds made from the Baga grape variety, similar to Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, with great ageing potential. White wines predominantly made from Bical and Maria Gomes (a.k.a. Fernão Pires) are harmoniously balanced and similarly age-worthy.

FESTA suggestions: Quinta das Bágeiras Bruto Natural, a traditional method espumante (sparkling) wine, with notes of white peach and lemon zest. A classic style, balanced and fresh which pairs beautifully with Leitão (roast suckling pig).


The Lisboa region skirts the capital along the Atlantic coast. Vineyards are influenced by the temperate Atlantic climate and Jurassic limestone soil which produce racy, mineral whites from local grape varieties such as Arinto and Vital. The reds are typically medium-bodied and a new wave of lighter styles have seen a niche revival of traditional grapes, notably Castelão, also Tinta Miúda (a.k.a. Graciano). The wines are usually fruity, round and light.

FESTA suggestions: Hugo Mendes Lisboa Vital is pure and crisp with a salty, mineral character that is utterly refreshing but not simple. It pairs well with Bar Douro’s seabass and mussel feijoada.


The Azores is an archipelago of 9 islands with active volcanoes, where vines literally grow out of cracks in the lava beds. In order to protect the vines from the battering of Atlantic winds and seas spray, dry walls or ‘currais’ were built some 400 years ago by stacking volcanic stones. The islands of Pico, Graciosa and Terceira have a long tradition of licoroso (late harvest/fortified) production, but the archipelago is fast gaining a reputation for salty, powerfully mineral, dry whites made from three local varieties: Arinto dos Açores, Verdelho and Terrantez do Pico.

FESTA suggestions: If you want the perfect wine to order, try a Pico Wines Frei Gigante – a pioneering light white wine from Pico island’s three leading native grapes, Arinto dos Açores, Verdelho and Terreantez do Pico. Delicious with Bar Douro’s Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato.

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