And now the time has come to praise cheap white wine. Or, to be accurate, green wine. I recently returned from a trip to Portugal, and much to my wife,s chagrin, there’s a new love in my life: Vinho Verde.
It won’t replace her. But, of course, she,s put up with far too much of my whining over the years to be gotten rid of that easily. Plus, she has a great palate, which has always topped my list of marriage-material criteria. But the green stuff was a revelation, and I don,t think it was the fact that I drank it in 70-degree-and-sunny weather while I was across the pond.
Vinho Verde (pronounced VEEN-yo VEHR-duh) is wonderfully light-bodied, so fresh that it feels a bit effervescent, and low enough in alcohol that two people can drink a bottle at lunch with relative impunity.
These wines are the embodiment of unpretentious and the polar opposite, in virtually every respect, of most of the wines we tend to drink most often. Indeed, there is little to contemplate here: No real depth of flavor, not a great deal of nuance, and lets –be honest– nothing to make you pause and think, searching for elegant descriptors to describe the wine.
They are, rather, wines meant for conversation, for social settings, for lazy afternoons in the sun. As a result, they go down awfully easily, subtly lubricating the conversation, their bright acidity pairing beautifully with everything from Portuguese cheese on toast to freshly grilled sardines with sea salt and olive oil. Or drink them on their own: One waiter told me that the Portuguese drink Vinho Verde the way we drink cola.
As springtime threatens to make itself felt, do yourself a favor and buy half a case of Vinho Verde. There may still be snow on the ground, but it’s never too early for this wine. I like to think of it as wishful thinking in a bottle.