Reading labels of Portugal wines

The present post complements an article on Portugal wine regions and varieties.

Classification System

Vinho regional (country wine), started in 1992, is the lowest quality level for a Portuguese wine (above vinho de mesa, the basic table wine).

Next up, the IPR (indicação de proveniência regulamentada) wines are those waiting in the queue to be given DOC (denominação de origem controlada) status, the highest of all.

There are now 19 DOC regions – including Madeira, Bairrada, Dão and Douro. Port has its own separate DOC. The term Garrafeira is sometimes still used to indicate a producer’s best wine. It can be used on the label of any quality wine with half a degree more alcohol than the minimum. In addition, reds require at least two years in tank or barrel and another one in bottle; the rare whites need six months each in barrel (or tank) and bottle. Reservas just need the extra half a degree alcohol but the term is increasingly used for premium bottlings.

Often Used Terms On Portugal Wine Labels

Adega – Originally a wine cellar or cave often used now to simply indicate a wine producer
Branco – A white wine.
Bruto – Dry sparkling wine.
Casta – Grape variety.
Casta predominante – Predominant grape variety.
Colheita – The year of vintage.
Engarrafado por – Bottled by.
Engarrafado na Origem or na Quinta – Estate bottled wine.
Engarrafado na Regiao – Bottled in the region of origin but not from any particular property or vineyard.
Carrafa – A wine bottle – meia-garrafa: a half-bottle.
Carrafao – A 5-liter jug of basic quality table wine.
Garrafeira Literally a wine cellar. But this is also a legal term indicating, for a red wine, lengthy aging in bulk (two years) and bottle (one year). White wines must be aged six months in bulk and six months in bottle before release. A garrafeira is a producer’s top wine. Its quality depends on the producer’s standards.
Quinta – A vineyard with a dwelling and vinification facilities. Roughly equivalent to the French term “chateau.”
Produzido por – Produced by.
Reserva – A reserve wine which has met certain legal requirements. The terms especial and partrcular added to this term have no legal definition; they are just embellishments.
Seco – Dry most often seen on white wine labels.
Meio-Seco – Half-dry – usually indicates an off-dry or slightly sweet Vinho Verde or sparkling wine.
Tinto – Red Wine.
Vinho – Wine.
Vinha – Vinevard.
Vinho Espumante – sparkling wine made by one of several natural methods, usually the classic methode champenoise.
Vinho Espumoso – Artificially carbonated sparkling wine.

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2 Responses to “Reading labels of Portugal wines”

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