The $4 summer sipping secret: Vinho Verde

It IS easy being verde

Keeping thrifty is a challenge when it comes to wine. Sure, there’s always two-buck-chuck (three-buck-chuck here in New York) and the boxed variety (Franzia Chillable Red, anyone?), but finding a good, top-quality bottle can sometimes prove to be a chore. With all the rooftop BBQs and pre-free-summer-show parties this time of year, a good bottle of interesting – but affordable – vino is a prized possession. Well, come a little closer to your computer screen (not too close) because I’ve got your answer, and it will only run you between $4-$9: Vinho Verde.

What is Vinho Verde?
Hailing from Minho, a region in the north of Portugal, Vinho Verde, which means “green wine,” is made from a group of grapes I don’t suggest you attempt to pronounce, but if you are looking to show off your Portuguese while you celebrate America this weekend, give these a go: Loureiro, Arinto, Traiadura, Avesso and Azal.

The taste
Floating somewhere between a still white wine and a sparkling, Vinho Verde has a light fizz to it, a certain pétillance (say that if you’re looking to seem suave). That little bit of fizz combined with the tart and citrusy flavors make it is the ultimate in refreshing boozey beverages and its comparatively low alcohol levels (8.5 percent-11 percent rather than your usual 11 percent-15 percent) mean Vinho Verde is the perfect daytime drink for a hot summer day. If the low alcohol is making you wary, go ahead and buy multiple bottles – the average Vinho Verde tops out at $10 and is many times much cheaper.

Here are some choice bottles. Stores are still catching on to verde but at least one of these should be available in your local liquor store:

Twin Vines 2009 ($7)
Super light and crisp with hints of lime zest and a very definite fizz. The screwcap makes for easy portability and renders this a great beach wine – there’s nothing like the ocean or a lake to chill down a bottle.

Fâmega 2010 ($7)
A dry Vinho with a limestone minerality. Its light and bright qualities make it a perfect aperitif to greet the day with – drink it on its own or combine it with shrimp or other lighter grilled fare.

Arca Nova 2009 ($9)
This bottle has a grassier feel to it and a light straw hue. For the Vinho Verde connoisseur who is looking for something different and willing to spend a couple extra bucks. Its slightly higher level in complexity means it’s a lovely accompaniment to firm, grilled fish or vegetables.

“Gazela” Sogrape 2009 ($5)
If super tart isn’t your thing, give this slightly more fruity-style Vinho Verde a try. There is a softness to this bottle’s fizz but the underlying lemon remains, keeping it refreshing. Quaff this easy drinker on its own. All you need is a wine key and a straw.

Espiral 2010 ($4)
You may have seen this bottle at Trader Joe’s. A good medium bodied version of the young wine, it has assertive but refreshing lemony notes.

Average prices taken from and local wine stores.

3 Comment

  • Ah yes, Vinho Verde is a great summer drink, and especially for mixing if that’s your style (not necessarily mine, unless it’s sangria, but to each their own).

    However, there are plenty of bottles in the $5-$10 range at TJ’s that are really great. If you’re like me and don’t love sugary sweet whites, want something cold, and not in the mood for beer or liquor, I can suggest (to those not already familiar with):

    White Rioja – yes, it comes in white


    Lambrusco – a chilled, semi-sparkling red (“frizzante” in Italian, as opposed to sparkling “spumante”), which kind of jammy up front but finishes really dry. Often less than $10, sometimes in the $10-$15 range. Also great for sangria.

  • picked up some on Monday from the wine shop on DeKalb to take to our BYOB dinner and it was clutch! Sparkly and refreshing. A portugese wine to celebrate independence day at a Mediterranean restaurant. score!

  • Why promote Trader Joe’s? You want to make the Albrechts, Germany’s wealthiest family, richer? Besides the only TJ in the city that sells wine is not in Brooklyn. Support Brooklyn business. Not Europe’s version of the Waltons.