Vinhão: red Vinho Verde

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Vinhão: red Vinho Verde

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I love red Vinho Verde. It’s just so distinctive and different. Usually (but not always) it’s made from a single variety, Vinhão. This has a thick skin, and the result is inky dark, vivid wines. It’s also widely grown in the Douro, where it goes under the name Sousão.

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Some people think of it as a teinturier (a red-fleshed grape), but it’s not, although sometimes the colour can bleed from the skins into the pulp. Vinhão is a really distinctive wine. As well as its intense colour, it has really high acidity, and it sometimes doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation (which is really unusual for red wines).

In a tasca drinking Vinhão
In a tasca drinking Vinhão

Typically the wine will be served straight from cask or tank, and then poured from carafes or jugs. It’s not all that often that it’s bottled. You’ll find it in the traditional tapas bars, tascas, in Porto and the Minho. It doesn’t really leave the region.

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Most commonly it is served in small ceramic bowls, not glasses. The white ceramic enhances the intense colour of the Vinhão.

Sopa de Cavalo Cansado
Sopa de Cavalo Cansado

It is also sometimes served as a soup. Bread and sugar are added to the wine. This is the sopa de cavalo cansado, which translates as soup of the hungry horse. It sounds weird, but it’s actually quite delicious.

Vinhão on the vine, Vinho Verde
Vinhão on the vine, Vinho Verde

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a short video from a tasca crawl I did with Dirk Niepoort, who is planning a red and white vinho verde project focusing on the more traditional styles (slightly fizzy white and inky dark red).

 

 

3 Comments on Vinhão: red Vinho VerdeTagged ,
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

3 thoughts on “Vinhão: red Vinho Verde

  1. When you say Vinhao doesn’t go through MLF do you mean they prevent it from going through with SO2 and filtering ?

  2. Dear Jamie,
    You said that it doesn’t go through MLF. I am a small producer of Vinho Verde red wine and my experience is different. As I see it, traditionally, the wine would have the MLF due to the high level of acidity and the absence of SO2. Nowadays, the big producers might do it differently but I think it needs the MLF.

  3. Hi Pedro and Clive, just reporting what I heard – and have added a word as a clarifier to take your comments into account. If it doesn’t, it’s probably because the bugs are inhibited by the low pH and the wine is drunk very young before it’s really had a chance

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