Portuguese wine may not be as popular as French, Italian or Spanish wines because of the non-ubiquitous nature of the grapes used in making them. Portugal has a long wine making history and produces very distinct wines with its native grapes.
The Portuguese have pursued an independent wine making policy that is not ready to sacrifice a large part of its wine making cultures and heritage in order to satisfy the demands of international palates.
Despite the choice not to sweep away most of its traditions in favor of international yearnings, wine from Portugal is still quite popular internationally.
The Portuguese have their own manner of categorization and unlike countries which tend to evolve their wine naming methods as a derivative of the French one, Portugal, much like Germany and a number of other European nations, has its own distinct naming conventions.
Some of these naming conventions follow the E.U naming style of naming wines according to region and quality, but in Portugal the issue of region is defined further by the fact that each region makes very different wines from the next.
Along with the traditional red and white wines, Portugal also has its port wines. There are a lot of wine grapes in Portugal with hard to remember names. An individual must take the time to specialize in Portuguese wine offerings. The differences in landscape, climate and wine making practices from one region to the next also adds to the distinctiveness of this wine based on the regions such wine is produced.
There are four categories:
- Vinho de Mesa - which is more or less wine that only bears an indication that it was produced in Portugal.
- Vinho Regional - wine bearing an indication of the particular region within the country which it was made.
- Indicação de Proveniência Regulamentada - wine produced in a regulated region with certain rules as to production quality.
- Denominação de Origem Controlada (abbreviated DOC on wine bottles) this status connotes Portuguese wines of the finest quality made in regions and estates where wine production is intensively regulated.
One of Portugal's most popular wine making regions is the Douro Valley, which makes the Vinho de Douro and also a number of famous Portuguese Port wines.
Other popular wine making regions are those where the Vinho Verde is made such as the Minho region and Dão region where the wine of the same name is made which is in the more mountainous parts of Portugal.