A funny thing happened on the way to the annual vinho verde review. I tasted some poorly made wine, which has never happened before, and almost didn’t do the review.
The thing about the Portuguese vinho verde, as regular visitors know, is that it’s not complicated enough to screw up. It’s an inexpensive, simple wine, slightly sweet with lime or green apple fruit, plus some fizz – more like club soda than sparkling wine. It’s low in alcohol and needs to be ice cold, which makes it the ideal wine for this time of year. It’s not made to age, even for a couple of months, and usually wears out by the time cooler weather arrives.
A couple of producers make most of the vinho verde, which they sell under different labels, and are widely available.This year, though, much of the wine was underwhelming. The Gazela ($7, purchased) was sour, not especially fruity, and thin – more like Alka-Seltzer than wine. The Famega ($7, purchased), usually the standard, was only a little more enjoyable than the Gazela. It had some sweetness and the traditional spritz, but also an unpleasant, almost quinine flavor.
Fortunately, the Casal Garcia ($6, purchased) was up to snuff, fresh and lively. It tasted of very tart green apples, with the right amount of fizz and sweetness. I drank it with linguine with grilled shrimp (lots of garlic and parsley, too), and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. What more can you ask of a $6 wine?