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.
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