Green Christmas: Vinho Verde

Okay, this post has nothing to do with the environment and vinho verde isn’t even actually green. But my wine-post frequency is disproportionate to my love of wine, and a number of my friends will be receiving this lovely bottle from me this year.

I had heard rumours of green wine from my parents when they talked about Portugal, but it wasn’t until I was in Lisbon this summer that I tried the stuff. Liam and I decided to dine in a little alfresco place they call a cafeteria, when I spotted it on the menu and pointed it out to the waiter. I thought he may be impressed, you know -a clearly tourist couple, ordering such a local wine, but he didn’t bat and eye. I was expecting it to look like something the Grinch would chug back on a Christmas Eve, instead we got a white that looked very light in the glass. The first sip is surprising because you don’t expect it to be sparkling, and technically it’s not. At less than one bar of carbon dioxide pressure, vinho verde is classified as being pétillant; a French word to describe the pleasant light effervescence. A more focused second sip was fresh and crisp, fruity without being sweet, and on the dry side. Its delicious, lively, and just thinking about it takes me back to the banks of the Tagus; warm summer sun, grilled seafood in a light sauce, accordion music … ahaaaaaa.

Anyway, when we met up with my family is São Miguel we had been drinking a lot of vinho verde, and that didn’t stop. I wish I had kept better track of the brands we tried in Lisbon (my journal sat forgotten at the bottom of my backpack). But I do remember that the only variety we could find on the island was Gazela. Fine with us! Gazela was our go-to drink every night for dinner; enjoyed by all, low in alcohol, refreshing in the heat, and well paired with our simple meals.

My family enjoying Gazela in Sao Miguel Portugal
A bottle of Gazela

It was also very cheap in Portugal, but so was every other wine, so I didn’t think much of it. Once back in the true North though, I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to find a green wine, and had no idea what it would cost. Happily, I hunted Gazela down in the LCBO and it was under $10!!! Now I can take little sips of vacation any time I want, AND I get to share it.

The only draw back with Gazela as a Christmas gift, however, is that it is traditionally a summer wine. Vinho Verde either gets it name from its region; the lush Costa Verde (“Green Coast”) area, or the fact that it is meant to be enjoyed young (a.k.a. green) –so there is no waiting around for warmer weather. But I think a bottle of Gazela could have a place in Canadian winter;

  • past with fruity h’orderves that use figs, dates, or cranberries,
  • as a digestive after an exceptionally rich and heavy holiday dinner,
  • toasting a special occasion or even the New Year!

I’ll try those out and see how it goes. For now at least, Gazela has a place in my fridge and under my tree.

For more formal information on this wine check out Wine Legacy and Wine Lovers Page.

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