Portuguese wine is part of the ancient traditions introduced to the region by ancient civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and mostly the Romans.

It started to export its wines to Rome during the Roman Empire. Modern exports developed with trade to England after a treaty in 1703.

Portugal has the oldest appellation system in the world, the Douro Valley. This region and Vinho Verde region, in the Northwest produces some of the world`s finest, unique and highest value-added wines. Alentejo and Dão regions produces fruitful flavour wines, suitable for a casual wine drinker.

Portugal has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO as World Heritage: the Douro Valley Wine Region (Douro Vinhateiro) and Pico Island Wine Region (Ilha do Pico Vinhateira).

Portugal has a large variety of native breeds (about 500), producing a very wide variety of different wines with distinctive personality. The Oxford Companion to Wine describes the country as having ``a treasure trove of indigenous grape varieties.`` In Portugal, the wine classification is done by Verde (``Green``, Vinho Verde Region) and Maduro (``Mature``, the rest of the country).

With the quality and uniqueness of its wines, the country is a sizable and growing player in wine production, being in the top 10, with 4% of the world market (2003). The country is considered a traditional wine grower with 8% of its continental land dedicated to vineyards. Only the highest mountain peaks are unable to support viticulture. Portugal produces some of the world`s best wines, as reflected in its success in international competitions.


In Mythology, Luso was son or companion of Bacchus, the god of winery and Feast. Mythically, Lusitania gained its name from Luso. Lusitania was an ancient Roman province in the present day Portugal.

There are some theories that the Tartessians first cultivated vineyards in the Iberian Peninsula in the Tagus Valley about 2000 BC. Later in the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians introduced vineyards in the region. But it was in the 7th century BC, when the Greeks installed in the Peninsula that the wine making art developed. In Alcácer do Sal, a cratera was found, the cratera is a vase used by the Ancient Greeks to drink and dilute wine with water, showing that the Ancient Greeks also drank Portuguese wines.

During the Roman rule over Portugal, the vineyard culture greatly developed, as the region supplied Rome with its wines. The wines became popular in Rome, leading to the demand being superior to wine production.

During the Reconquista in the 12th and 13th centuries, with the populating (povoamento) of the conquered territories, areas that due to religion the Arabs reduced wine production, and planting grapevines were a priority. During this period, some new varieties were added to the ancient ones, from Burgundy came the French varieties. And during the period of discoveries, Henry the Navigator brought to the newly discovered island of Madeira the moscatel and malvasia from the Greek Island of Crete.

Due to historical reasons, England was to where Portuguese wines were most exported. Exports of Portuguese wines from Northern Portugal to England are known since the 12th century. From this commerce a wide variety of wines started to be growned in Portugal. And, in 1758, the first wine-producing region of the world, the Região Demarcada do Douro was created under the orientation of Marquis of Pombal, in the Douro Valley. The demarcated region had the aim to guarantee the production of excellent quality wines.

In the Reign of King Charles, the Região Demarcada do Vinho Verde and the Região Demarcada do Dão among Colares, Carcavelos, Setúbal, and Madeira were created. These wines were already famous before the creation of the Demarcated region. In 1979, Bairrada was added and in 1980 the Algarve region (Lagoa, Lagos, Portimão, and Tavira) was finally demarcated. In 1998, the Alentejo region was demarked by the gathering several smaller demarked regions created in 1995.

Portugal is home to one of the greatest international wine success stories of modern times. That is the production and marketing of medium sweet, lightly sparking rosés. In the late 1980s, Mateus accounted for over 40% of the country`s total table wine exports and was especially popular in Europe. Lancers is better known in the United States, where it continues to be successful.

Demarcated Wine
Regions (D.O.C.)

Vinhos Verdes, Porto e Douro, Dão, Bairrada, Bucelas, Colares, Carcavelos, Setúbal, Alentejo, Lagoa, Lagos, Portimão, Tavira, Madeira,

Some Portuguese wine terms

Adega: Winery
Branco: White
Casta: Grape variety
Colheita: Vintage year
Garrafeira: A reserva red wine aged at least two years in a barrel and one year in a bottle; a white wine aged at least six months in a barrel and six months in a bottle.
Maduro: mature (in opposition to verde). Mature wines are Portuguese wines produced in all regions except the ones produced in Vinho Verde region, due to that, the term ``maduro`` rarely appears on bottles.
Quinta: Vineyard
Reserva: Superior quality wine of a single vintage
Seco: Dry
Tinto: Red
Verde: green (in opposition to maduro). Wines produced in Vinho Verde region with a distinctive method.
Vinho: Wine

This article is based entirely or in part on the Portugal wikipedia article and is licenced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence.


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