Vineyards have flourished in Portugal since Roman times. The country may be better known for its stunning Ports and Madeiras, but its dry table wines are growing in esteem with each passing year. When Portugal joined the European Union in 1986, its wine laws were aligned with those of other Old World countries, namely the French Appellation d'Origine Controllee system:
Denominacao de Origem Controlada (French AOC)
Indicacao de Proveniencia Regulamentada (French VDQS)
Vinho regional (French vin de pays)
Vinho de mesa (French vin de table)
The Wines and the Regions
Arguably the most famous Portuguese wine besides port and Madeira is Vinho Verde, which is exported to the United States. Vinho Verde, which is also the name of the DOC, means “green wine,” because it is intended for immediate consumption. The wine is red or white and often has a slight effervescence. The better versions are made from the Alvarinho grape — the same one that makes Spain's Albariño wine.
The great Spanish grape Tempranillo has a home in Portugal, where it is called Tinta Roriz. Portugal's most famous indigenous grape is Touriga Nacional, which, along with Tinta Roriz, is used for port. Touriga Nacional also is used in the great dry non-fortified red wines of the Dao and Douro Valley.