Green wine?

15 Mar

Poor St. Patrick. A lifetime of saintly deeds, and all he gets in return is an annual drinking holiday. This Saturday, millions will don plastic leprechaun hats while bobbing in a virtual sea of green beer, all in the name of Ireland’s patron saint. Which brings us to the topic of green wine.  In the spirit of St. Patty’s Day, Señorita Vino proudly presents her official primer on ‘green’ wine.

"Green beer? Really?"

1. Vinho Verde

You guessed right, chicos y chicas. ‘Vinho Verde’ is Portuguese for ‘green wine.’ But this Portuguese wine is not green in color. ‘Green’ in this case is referring to youthfulness (see number 2 below), so the correct translation would be ‘young wine.’ Vinho Verde wines can be white, red or rosé. The key is to drink this wine soon after you buy it, because it’s not meant to be aged. A white Vinho Verde tends to be light (a lower alcohol content), crisp (high acidity) and wonderfully floral. Sip a glass as you’re painting your nails green.

2. Youthful Exhuberance

White wine gets darker in color as it ages. In a very young white wine, you may be able to detect a subtle greenish tinge. We’re not talking kelly green, but  a pale yellow with just a hint of greenness. The next time you’re drinking a white wine from an early vintage (2010, 2011), hold your glass against a white piece of paper and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Organic Wine

This is a topic that stirs a lot of debate, so for the purposes of our ‘green’ theme, we’ll keep it simple. Generally speaking, organic wine in the U.S. is wine made from grapes grown according to organic standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In other words, no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used, among other organic farming practices. Rules about organic winemaking–or what happens in the winery once the grapes are harvested–vary from state to state. What matters is that drinking organic wine is an individual choice only you and your tastebuds can decide.  I have tasted both organic and non-organic wines, and have had excellent and so-so wines in each category.

4. Green foods and the wines that love them

What would a green wine discussion be without a pairing of wine with verde-colored victuals? For your St. Patty’s Day dining pleasure, here are some wines you can drink with your favorite emerald-toned comidas:

Green salad with avocados: Choose a lighter white wine such as a dry Riesling. The wine’s natural acidity will ‘cut’ the fat of the avocados.

Chile verde:  Here’s where a medium-bodied Zinfandel would complement the meat (and heat!) in this dish.

Green cupcakes: A sweet dessert wine would pair much better with green cupcakes than a pint o’ green Guiness. Just sayin’. Be  sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert. Go for a Moscato or a sparkling Brachetto.

5. If you really must go there…

I believe in freedom of choice, but I also believe that friends don’t let friends put green food coloring in white wine. Yes, that’s me editorializing. However you decide to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, take this bit o’ wisdom to the pub with you on Saturday:

“Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye; that’s all we shall know for truth…”

-William Butler Yeats, Irish playwright and poet

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8 Responses to “Green wine?”

  1. Sujeiry March 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I never knew white wine had a hint of green. It’s mostly what I drink as most reds I’ve tried are too dry for my taste buds. I love Riesling! May just pull out a piece of paper next time I take a sip.

    • Pamela March 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Yep. It’s the younger whites where you’ll see the greenish hues. Try a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and if you have a piece of paper (or white napkin) handy, you’ll notice it. Cheers!

  2. Bridget March 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    I believe that way back in the mists of time, before Portugal was Roman, it had peoples of Celtic origin. So maybe the vinho verde is Portugal’s way of celebrating its heritage; the drinkin’ o’ the green.

  3. Comiendo en LA March 17, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Thanks you for the suggestions and explanations!! I would love some cupcakes with wine right now!

  4. whineandcheersforwine March 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on whineandcheersforwine and commented:
    This is a great post, very well written. My favorite thus far is the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde {Green Wine}. Available at Total Wine and even groecery stores for $6-9.00. Salud! And HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!

  5. I.l. Yagual March 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    Great take and info on St. Patty’s Day. The cupcakes and the wine idea sound stupendous!

  6. quintadalixaotalvinhodalixa May 8, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Great delicious post,

    Our region Minho, between Minho River, at North, and Douro river, at the south, is actually very green almost the entire year.
    Here, rains a lot, so is the region that produces the bigger quantity of milk and is also the major demarcated region for Wines.

    There are some producers that are increasing the quality and experimenting new styles of wine.

    One of the foreign markets major success Wines is “Vinho Verde” and is becoming more and more a daily Wine for many consumers all over the World.

    If you ever visit our region do not forget to visit Quinta da Lixa, we would love to receive you.

    • Pamela May 8, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Muito obrigada! Thank you for reading and I appreciate the wonderful information about Minho. I certainly will let you know if my plans take me to Minho – it would be a pleasure to meet you. Saude!

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