Green’s The Thing

Toast the dawn of another summer with a refreshing Vinho Verde, a light, citrusy white wine that has found its niche at American patio picnics and pool parties.

Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal but a description. Portuguese for “green wine,” the name refers to young wine usually consumed within a year of bottling — sort of the Iberian version of Beaujolais nouveau. The slightly effervescent wines, produced in the Vinho Verde DOC of northern Portugal, can be white, red or rosé, but the most popular is a white wine from the Alvarinho grape.

Octave is a quintessential Vinho Verde. A tad fizzy to tickle the tongue, the citrusy aroma and flavor is fresh and bright — a tangy lemon-lime with emphasis on the lime. Green wine, indeed! A hint of herbs and crisp apple give it a zesty finish. Served chilled, it pairs well with any seafood, especially shrimp, plus salads, poultry, pasta, paella, cheese plates and sushi. The bit of bubbles make it a natural with appetizers. Or use this Vinho Verde as a spritzy, citrusy base for white sangria.

This unpretentious wine is perfect for casual summer sipping. It promises to leave a little more green in your pocket as well; at less than $10 a bottle ($7.99 at Lucky’s), you can enjoy this splashy little pleaser all season long. Look for it at your favorite Columbia wine shop.

A Tall Order
Vinho Verde wines originated in the historic Minho province of northern Portugal, where vintners have cultivated grapes in the lush countryside since the ninth century. Most vineyards in the region are small family operations; many growers still train their vines high off the ground — on tall trellises or up fences, trees or utility poles — so they can raise vegetable crops below the vines. The high-rise vineyards help reduce rot in the fruit, an unwanted effect of the region’s high annual rainfall. At harvest time, workers must climb tall ladders to pick the grapes.