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