Portuguese wine and the versatility with food
Portuguese wine – It has been a year since I wrote a feature article on Portugal ( Portuguese wine in top 10 imported wines in Montreal) and the wines continue to be as good as ever. In this post, I would like to discuss with you the versatility of Portuguese wines with food
Portuguese wines continue their soaring popularity in the Canadian market. According to Wines of Portugal, exports to the Canadian Market have increased 17% in value. Canadians are consuming more non fortified wines and less porto, 86% compared to 14% for the fortified category. There is also a strong preference for DOC wines. The lion’s share goes for the DOC category ( 64%) followed by IGP ( 29%) and the rest in other categories.
Why the surge of popularity in Portuguese wines?. Canadians value authenticity and diversity, and the Portuguese wine industry is well equipped to offer that. Portugal has more than 250 native grape varieties that cannot be found elsewhere. This diversity allows them to produce a rich palette of styles not only suitable for Mediterranean cuisine but also for other exotic types such as Indian, Asian and even fusion one. As the millennials become the new wine clientele, they will demand authentic and original wines to match their creative food culture.
In the past, I have enjoyed some memorable Portuguese wine pairings with Asian food and the options are endless. For instance, you could have a fruity Alentejo with a Pad Thai or a Vinho Verde with Singapore noodles. If you enjoy chicken or fish and seafood Vietnamese pho soups, an aromatic Loureiro or Moscatel will be an stellar match.
However, Indian food is a different ballgame because of the spicy and heat level and you have to proceed with caution. Although, if you keep an eye on the spiciness, you can accommodate very well Portuguese wines. For instance, a fruity Dâo goes very nicely with Indian red lentil soup while a more structured Douro red can go better with heartier dishes such as Vindaloo.
What would be Portuguese wine without Port?. Beyond chocolate and cheese, Port offers many possibilities especially with BBQ and Latin American dishes. For instance, a Late Bottled Vintage ( LBV) could work very nicely with pulled pork quesadillas The name originated during Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s dictatorship when Portugal’s economy was in dire straits. As there were no enough buyers for Vintage Port, that wine spent more than 4 years in aging thereby christening the name ‘Late Vintage Port’. What makes an LBV so attractive is that unlike a vintage port, which takes decades to age and mature so as to reach its pinnacle of perfection, an LBV has already attained a level of maturity and softness from those few extra years of aging.
Now, Tawnies Port shine best with more traditional pairings for the drink: cheeses, fruits and desserts. However, I prefer them with a variety of desserts and certain Mexican dishes. Younger Tawnies have a nutty and caramel flavour profile and would go well with desserts like Tres Leches cake. On the other hand, older and darker Tawnies are richer and could go well for instance with different Mexican Mole recipes or pulled beef tacos.
Finally, vintage port is something that I reserve to have with a nice cigar or something very simple like a high quality dark chocolate. The rare occasions that I open up a vintage port, I usually decant and let the wine breath a few hours before tasting it. This process gives the port enough time for the bouquet to develop to maximize the tasting experience.
Remember, is all about being creative and thinking outside the box when matching Portuguese wines with food. I hope that I proved my point. Below is a small selection of Portuguese wines that I have tried recently for your next wine pairing experiences.
Planalto Reserva Douro DOC 2016 ( SAQ # 13189594 $11.55)
Beautiful citrus fruit on the nose bringing to mind orange and lemon zest with peach cream. On the palate, dry and crisp with notes of honey and dry fruits. Very clean finale. Excellent quality price ratio for the price. Food match: Sashimi or other raw fish dishes such as scallops or salmon tartar.
Papa Figos Douro DOC 2016 ( SAQ # 13385325 $16.95)
Pretty aromas that bring to mind raspberry coulis with a complex palette of floral nuances that remind me of citrus, liquorice, Thai basil and mint. Savoury and satiny with supple tannins. Lovely spicy finale that brings to mind smoke and black liquorice. Food match: Thai style grilled beef
Vinha Grande Douro DOC 2015 ( SAQ # 865329 $17.95)
Mineral dust with star anise and black cherry compote. On the mouth, structured and chunky yet with a good acidity. Flavours bring to mind mocha, prune jam all supported by firm tannins. Medium length finale. Food match: Beef Vindaloo
Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada 2014 Dao DOC ( SAQ # 13279872 $12.80)
Aromas of mocha with ripe nuances of plum, black cherry, strawberries and raspberries. Elegant and harmonious with multi layer flavors of spices, and dark chocolate. Smooth tannins with a long finale that recalls black pepper. Food Match: Satay chicken brochettes
Vicente Leite de Faria Gloria Reserva 2015 Douro DOC ( SAQ # 11156297 $13.45)
Alluring field berries nose with savoury hints of garigue. Plush and comforting on the palate with flavours of herbed red fruit and sandalwood. . Lovely hearty red wine. Food Match: beef cheese quesadillas
Alianca Foral Reserva 2014 Douro DOC ( SAQ #11317177 $14.05)
Robust smoked red and black fruit. On the mouth, ripe and dense with jam flavours and red fruit, baked and rum cake spices. Pretty good wine to have for the weekday. Food Match: black bean beef stir fry.
Disclaimer: Prices are in CAD for the Quebec market in Canada. Wines reviewed for this post were given as samples or tasted as part of a product portfolio by their respective importers or promotional agencies.
Marco Giovanetti – email@example.com