Vinho Verde and a Simple Seafood Feast #WinePW

Vinho Verde is one of my absolute favorite summer wines.

I cannot think of a more perfect beverage for the season. Here are just a few reasons I think it should be in everyone’s summer bottle rotation:

  • It’s super refreshing.
  • Most tickle your tongue with a hint of fizz.
  • It pairs beautifully with fresh summer fare.
  • It tends to be low in alcohol, which makes it perfect for sipping in the afternoon sun without gonking you out.
  • It’s usually very easy on the wallet, so you can crack open bottles freely and keep the wine flowing.
Map courtesy of Wines of Portugal.

Vinho Verde is a wine region in northwestern corner of Portugal in the province of Minho. The name Vinho Verde means “green wine,” but it's a reference to the wine's youth, not its color, thanks to the fact that wines are bottled pretty quickly after harvest – within 3 to 6 months. The wines often have a characteristic hint of fizz – not so much to be considered full-on sparkling, but just enough that you can feel it. Originally, this fizz was the result of the wine being bottled so quickly after fermentation that there was still a bit of C02 left in the wine, but nowadays winemakers typically add a bit to the wine as it’s being bottled.

The other likely possible origin of the name is that it could be referring to the color of the region itself, as it is quite verdant indeed. (However, the youthfulness of the wine is the more consistently cited origin of the name Vinho Verde that I've seen.) It’s right on the Atlantic coast and is boarded by the River Minho to the north, on the country's border with Spain, and stretches past the River Douro to the south. It has a cool, maritime climate that is quite rainy, which results in a lush green landscape. 

Photo courtesy of Wines of Portugal.

Despite the beautiful, fertile look of the land, it can actually be tricky to grow grapes well here. Grape vines don't really like a lot of moisture – it can make them over-productive and causes a lot of problems like mold, mildew, rot, and other diseases. Vines in Vinho Verde are often trained upward on Pergola systems, which help guard against the problems all the moisture brings, by allowing the vines to catch the breezes. It also helps farmers make the most of their land, which tends toward small plots, by increasing the density of the vines. Alternatively, many modern vineyards, particularly those with bigger estates, will instead train their vines along wires that help the grapes ripen by soaking in as much sun as possible whenever it makes an appearance.

Here are a few more basics for getting to know the region:

  • The region is best known for its white wines, however, they also make rosé and red wines, although they tend to be harder to find. Full-on sparkling wines are also permitted as of 1999. The region also makes brandy.
  • Vinho Verde wines are typically blends. There are recommended grapes, as well as a wider set of permitted white and red grapes. Each grape brings a different aspect to the blend. For example, Alvarinho, which is highly prized brings minerality, finesse, and fragrance. Loureiro is known for being quite aromatic. The recommended grapes are as follows: 
    • White: Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. Varietal Alvarinho wines are also made in the subregions Melgaço and Monção 
    • Red: Amaral, Azal Tinto, Borraçal, Brancelho, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Ovelha and Vinhão
  • The region is divided into nine subregions within the DOC of Vinho Verde, which are named after rivers or towns. They are: Monção, Melgaço, Lima, Basto, Cávado, Ave, Amarante, Baião, Sousa and Paiva. Different subregions have particular characteristics and might focus on different grapes depending on their particular climatic variations.

Greg and I spent a brief but wonderful few days in Portugal in 2013, along with one of my besties, Antonella. We didn’t make it to Vinho Verde, but we certainly drank some bottles. Here’s one bottle from Quinta da Aveleda with a seafood spread.
Scenes from a lunch in Lisbon.


While these wines are quite versatile, they are particularly wonderful with seafood. This trip to Portugal and Spain also showed us the possibilities of what good tinned fish can be, and we’ve sought out the good versions ever since. These can be particularly nice to have around during the summer when you don’t really feel like slaving away in front of a hot stove.



We’ve recently made our way down to San Diego to see Greg’s parents and we decided to share an easy seafood spread with them combining one dish using tinned fish, and another involving very light cooking, with a line-up of Vinho Verde wines for a little comparative tasting. 

I took inspiration from Chef George Mendes’ My Portugal cookbook for the dishes. The first was a very easy tomato and onion salad with good tinned tuna and herbs. (Adapted below.) You could just as easily swap in another favorite tinned fish option. The next dish involved clams simply cooked in a mixture of garlic, cilantro, and Vinho Verde. (How perfect is that?!) I found it reprinted here. The only change I made was to add shallots in alon. Altogether, everything took these dishes took less than an hour to put together. 

Finally, I know the Portuguese highly value a good loaf of bread, so baked a simple round of sourdough using a sourgdough version of the No-Knead Bread recipe. (Such a fan of this recipe for its really high ROI! So good for very little work.)


We opened three bottles to compare. We enjoyed all three, all were very refreshing, and they all went very well with the food. However, we definitely had a favorite – and on this occasion, we were all in agreement! The best part is that the prices for these wines topped out at about $13, so it’s pretty hard to go wrong. 

Quinta de Raza ‘Raza’ Vinho Verde 2019

The unanimous group favorite!

Quinta da Raza is a family-owned winery located in the subregion of Basto in the Tamega River Valley with mountains to the west. This river runs northeast to southwest, which is unusual as all the other rivers in the region run from east to west. These factors all help reduce the influence of the Atlantic winds, resulting in a comparatively less rainy microclimate. Bottom line, these vines get more time in the sun than many others in Vinho Verde.

We definitely could taste that sunshine in this wine as it had a rounder mouthfeel and had riper fruit notes than the other two wines. Flowers, pears, apples, and citrus notes greeted us on the nose. On the palates, we found the characteristic light Vinho Verde spritz, followed bu bright lemon, grapefruit, and tangy peach. It had juicy acidity with flavor that really popped in the mouth.

When sipped with the food, the wine brought out a fleshy, meaty quality in the clams, and elevated the herbal notes on the tuna dish is a nice way.

Blend: Arinto, Azal, Trajadura
Alc: 11.5%
Soils: Granite with areas of schist and clay.
Farming: Sustainable
Winemaking: Stainless steel fermentation.
Average price: $11. Purchased for $13 at Bay Grape.
Additional details here and here.

Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde 2019

This is one of the more easily available and reliable brands around. They’re actually the biggest exporter of Vinho Verde in Portugal. The company has been owned by the Guedes family for 5 generations, since its founding in 1870. Today, the company is run by António Azevedo Guedes and Martim Guedes. In addition to Vinho Verde, the company also produces wines in the Douro and Bairrada.

This was the stoniest of the three wines. It showed white flowers on the nose, along with notes of green apple and lime. All notes continued on the palate, along with hints of herbs on the finish. It was light and crisp and worked like a squeeze of lemon with the food.

Blend: Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura and Aza
Alc: 9.5%
Soils: Granite and sand.
Farming: Sustainable.
Average Price: $9 (Can’t quite recall where I bought this one.)
Additional details here

Broadbent Vinho Verde NV

This is a project from wine expert and importer Bartholomew Broadbent, son of wine critic Michael Broadbent. Broadbent Selections imports a variety of wines from different places where they work with partners in the respective regions to create the wines. For his Vinho Verde, the goal stated on the website is “to produce the most reliable and traditional of all Vinho Verdes and to resolve the usual whine that Vinho Verde never tastes like it tastes in Portugal.”  It’s made as a NV wine and is produced at Quinta de Azevedo in the Barcelos commune using grapes from a variety of partner growers. They ship the wines in refrigerated containers to help preserve freshness. I tend to find them widely available at stores like Whole Foods (where I purchased this bottle) and on They’re easily recognizable from their colorful labels and tend to hover around $10.

This wine was crisp, clean, direct, and fresh, mostly focusing on the primary fruit notes of grapefruit, lemon, and green apple. It was generally the second favorite in the group.

Blend: 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura, & 10% Pedernã
Alc: 9%
Average price: $9. Purchased for about that Whole Foods, and also available at .
Additional details here

Servings: 4
Adapted by: Nicole Ruiz Hudson from recipe by George Mendes in My Portugal
Tuna, Tomato, and Onion Salad

Tuna, Tomato, and Onion Salad


  • 2 lbs heirloom tomatoes in a mix of sizes and colors
  • 1 medium white onion, very thinly sliced
  • Sherry and/or date vinegar, to taste
  • 8 ounces good-quality tuna packed in olive oil
  • Fresh oregano, chopped, 2 Tbsp or to taste
  • Thyme or lemon thyme leaves, 2 Tbsp or to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel, to taste


  1. Core the tomatoes and cut into slices or halve in the case of smaller tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a bowl. Salt liberally and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place the onion slice in a bowl and douse liberally with vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for at least minutes.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes and onions on a platter. Break the tuna into chunks and sprinkle over the vegetables along with some of its oil.
  4. Sprinkle the herbs over the tuna and vegetables. Drizzle additional sherry vinegar and olive oil over the platter to taste. Top with freshly ground pepper and finish with Maldon sea salt.
Did you make this recipe?
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Created using The Recipes Generator
For a dish like this it really pays to use a really good quality tinned fish. On this occasion, I used this version from Olasagasti, which I admit is a little pricey. Typically, I would probably use something along the lines of this one by Tonnino.

Here's one more pairing idea for Vinho Verde (added after the fact). We recently also had a bottle of Gazela Vinho Verde  paired with spicy seafood and veggie takeout from our favorite Sichuan place. Spicy foods can be tricky to pair, but this wine worked because the low alcohol level didn't feed the burn, and the crisp citrus flavors and hint of fizz refreshed the palate.

The rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) is exploring the wines of Vinho Verde this month, hosted by Cindy of Grape Experiences. Be sure to check out the rest of the group's posts:

Additional sources used for this post:

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  1. I love these recipes! I also really adore Vinho Verde. It is so perfect in the heat of summer. Tasty and you don't have to think too hard when you drink it! I've always thought it was like grown-up Fresca.

  2. Your food pairings look divine! Agree that Vinho Verde and seafood are superb together.

  3. I'm all for tinned fish and a light-bodied Vinho Verde! These 3 examples all have their merits.

  4. I love the simplicity of the tuna, tomato, and onion salad. And it looks so perfect for summer with a glass of Vinho Verde!

    1. It was so simple and quite delicious -- this one is all about the ingredients! Thanks Jane.

  5. A wonderful post Nicole. I'm going to have to try your recipe since it's the height of heirloom tomato season. I might try it with sardines instead of tuna though since we have some on hand! How often do you get a unanimous wine choice? LOL

    1. I think that'll be delicious! Let me know how it turns out.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!