Let a Vinho Verde Rosé Warm Your Heart this Valentine’s Day

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Portuguese Wine Sales Increase 11.3 % in U.S. in 2009

The Vinho Verde wines of the Minho region in Northern Portugal have become some of the most popular Portuguese wines in the United States. This crisp wine with a hint of strawberry has a lower alcohol content than most wines, making it very drinkable with a Valentine’s Day dinner or as a refreshing after-dinner drink.Clean, crisp and known for a refreshing, acidic flavor, Vinho Verdes, or “green wines,” are meant to be enjoyed young, at least within a year of bottling. Served chilled and with a bubbly feel, Vinho Verde whites have become a refreshing summertime alternative to chardonnays and pinot grigios.

Vinho Verde roses offer a unique option for a romantic dinner or a simple evening in with a bottle of wine. Try pairing it with chicken, shellfish or a bold seafood dish. Vinho Verde roses can also tame the bite of spicy foods and complement the sometimes hard to match exotic flavors in Indian and Thai cuisine. The Quintas das Arcas, Arca Nova Rose 2008 is a great example of the region’s quality roses.

Portuguese wine sales jumped by 11.3% in the U.S. market during in 2009, as compared with 2008, according to the Portuguese wine marketing group ViniPortugal. The U.S. is now the second largest export market for Portuguese table wines. The report cites the current economic climate is a contributing factor in America's growing demand for Portugal's well priced, high quality wines. ViniPortugal announced that Portugal now ranks 9th in imported wines to the U.S.

These numbers underscore the six year trend of significant growth of Portuguese wine imports in the U.S. Between 2007 and 2009, sales of Portuguese table wines have increased by more than 40%.

Master winemakers in the Minho wine region of Portugal take this pink wine to new heights:

Although 80 percent of the region’s wine production is white, the Minho has much more to offer wine drinkers. In recent years, producers have expanded their operations and seized on the growing rose trend in Europe by to including a few craft roses in their cellars. Critics who have sampled these wines say the experiment has yielded excellent results.

Roses and other pink wines have gotten a bad rap in the United States, largely being stereotyped as sickly sweet, low quality beverages. Wine drinkers will likely be surprised by these Portuguese roses for their dry and crisp flavor with fruity undertones and a hint of spice. This sometimes savory wine is made from indigenous local grapes such as the Alvarelhao, Pedral, Espadeira and Vinhao, and ranges from the slightest pink to nearly red.

Portugal’s young and adventurous wine makers are often willing to try new things and the rose trend is no exception. A few years ago, wineries rarely produced this pink wine, but today, roses make up about five percent of the region’s wine production. Adega Cooperative Regional de Monção, one of the largest and best regarded cooperative producers in the Vinho Verde region, has just launched its first ever rosé. Adega made 40,000 bottles of the 2007 vintage and they expect production of roses to continue to rise.

The Minho wine makers, like many in Portugal’s distinctive and diverse wine regions, are looking to raise the country’s profile in the global wine market and show critics they too can produce top-quality wines on par with Europe’s finest producers. Unlike some wine regions that are dominated by epic estates and giant corporations, the Minho wine grapes are cultivated by many small growers who take great pride in their crops and their craft.

A unique characteristic of Minho is the climate and soil. Located in the northwest corner of Portugal on the border with Spain, the cool and damp climate is largely influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Vines grow on green rolling hills nestled between the Douro and Minho Rivers. The Minho also boasts Portugal’s largest variety of soil types, which create subtle differences in the wines, based on not only the types of grapes used but where they were grown.

Another popular selling point for Vinho Verde wines is the degree of quality you get for the price. Rarely more than $10 a bottle, Vinho Verde roses can be an affordable option for those watching their wallets. Why not plan a romantic dinner at home this Valentine’s Day and cork an Adega Cooperativa De Ponte Da Barca Vinho Verde Rose 2006, which sells for about $7 at online retailers, or the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé which can be found at around $9.

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Marcio Ferreira
ViniPortugal
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