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Grapes Varietals Commonly Used in Portuguese Wine

Grapes Varietals Commonly Used in Portuguese Wine

Grapes Varietals Commonly Used in Portuguese Wine

Portuguese wines are some of the most diverse and flavorful in the world. With its incredibly rich and often unique combinations of grape varieties, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones make up the base of most Portuguese wine. In this article we will investigate the most common grape varietals used in Portuguese wines and discuss their different flavor profiles and best uses.


Portugal's long history of viniculture dates back over five thousand years and continues to create some of the most enjoyable wines in the world. Portuguese wines have a distinct character to them, as they are often combinations of multiple traditional grape varietals native to Portugal as well as some international varietals. This allows for a wide range of flavors and qualities, depending on the combination.

While the selection of wines from Portugal is vast, there are some primary grape varieties used to produce the base wines that you will find most often. The following will discuss some of the different types of grapes used in Portuguese wines and explain what they bring to the table.


Alvarinho is one of the most popular Portuguese grape varietals and is commonly used in producing white wines. Alvarinho has a crisp and refreshing character and produces a full-bodied dry white wine with intense aromatics. Alvarinho is the main grape used in producing the Vinho Verde region's famous white wines. Alvarinho wines are known for their mineral flavors, citrus aromas, and light acidity.


Arinto is another important grape used in Portuguese white wines, particularly within the Lisbon region. Arinto produces a light, fresh, and acidic white wine. It has a citrus-driven aromas backed by light tropical fruit flavors and a crisp, dry finish. Arinto wines are most often unoaked and are used in Portugal to produce blended wines and sparkling wines.


Baga is a thick-skinned grape varietal used to produce deep, earth-driven red wines. It is most commonly used in the Bairrada region and produces robust tannic wines full of bright acidity and licorice and blackberry fruit flavors. Baga is often blended with other varieties, such as Touriga Nacional, to soften the tannic structure and add complexity to the fruit flavors.

Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional is a Portuguese varietal found all over the country, but it is particularly prominent in the Douro region. This varietal produces high-acid, tannic red wines with a deep color and heady aromatics. It is the main grape used in the production of the classic Port wines and is blended with other grape varieties to produce dry red table wines. Touriga Nacional wines are known for their aromas of black plums and floral notes.


The Trincadeira variety is primarily found in the Alentejo region and is used in producing full-bodied, fruity red wines. It is a thin-skinned grape variety and has high acidity and juicy and earthy fruit flavors. Trincadeira is usually blended with other Alentejo grape varieties, such as Alfrocheiro, to produce wines with complexity and depth.

Other Varietals

Aside from these five popular varietals, there are other grape varieties used in Portuguese wines. Some of the more popular include Loureiro, Fernão Pires, Síria, and Castelão. Loureiro is popular in the Vinho Verde region and produces dry, fruity wines with light citrus flavors. Fernão Pires and Síria are often blended together to produce white wines, while Castelão is another common grape used in the production of Portuguese red wines.

Popular Wine Styles

Now that we have discussed some of the more popular varietals used in Portuguese wines, we can begin to take a look at some of the most popular styles of wine that are produced in Portugal. While some of the most famous Portuguese wines are Ports and Muscats produced in the Douro region, other popular wines include Vinho Verde, Bairrada, and Dão. Each of these styles has its own distinct characteristics, as we can discuss below.

Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is a light and crisp white wine that is produced in the northwest region of Portugal. It is made from mainly Alvarinho grapes, but may also include other creamier varieties such as Loureiro and Arinto. Vinho Verde is known for its slight effervescence, light body, and refreshing flavors of citrus and green apples. It is often enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with fish dishes.


Bairrada is a robust and tannic wine produced primarily in the Bairrada region of Portugal. It is usually made from the Baga grape, which gives the wine its deep, earthy character. Bairrada wines are most often enjoyed with grilled meats and hearty dishes, as their tannins pair well with richer flavors.


Dão is a dry red wine produced mainly in the Dão region of Portugal. It is often blended with a variety of red grapes, such as Touriga Nacional, Castelão, and Tinta Roriz, to produce a complex and aromatic wine. Most of the wines produced in the Dão region combine intense fruit flavors with subtle earthy tones and will pair well with grilled or roasted meats.


Portuguese wines are some of the most unique and flavorful wines in the world. From dry white wines to robust red wines, there is something for everyone in Portugal's diverse selection of wines. The key to understanding Portuguese wines is understanding the grape varietals that make up the base of each style. Alvarinho, Arinto, Baga, Touriga Nacional, and Trincadeira are some of the most commonly used of the Portuguese varietals, while Loureiro, Fernão Pires, Síria, and Castelão are also used to produce unique and interesting wines. Just as the country has a variety of regions and styles, so does their selection of grape varietals. Unwinding the complexities of Portuguese wines and becoming familiar with the different grape varieties can be a fun and rewarding journey. Enjoy!

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