With St. Patrick’s Day coming up on March 17th, it’s time to prepare for all the green festivities! Everything from green clothes and accessories, to green food and the classy green beer, it’s all green all day long! But what about if your taste buds prefer wine over beer, then what?

How about a wine that isn’t exactly the shamrock green color, but has a slight green tint and its name translates to “green wine”?

I’m talking about Vinho Verde, from the Vinho Verde DOC region in northern Portugal, which neighbors Porto to the southwest, and Douro to the east.

The demand for this wine in the United States has more than tripled in the past decade, with more than 5 million bottles of Vinho Verde in 2012 Portugal Global Trade and Investment Agency. Here are a list of some questions that you might have regarding Vinho Verde*:

So what makes this wine so special?

There are a few characteristics that make this wine unique, one being that it is a wine meant to be drank at a very youthful state. In addition, the wine has a slight effervescence to it, which can pleasantly surprise and intrigue an unknowing consumer.

Is the name of the wine Vinho Verde because it is green?

Ironically, this wine is not green, other than a slight visual tint that might be due to the light yellow-green color hue. The translated name of “green wine” actually refers to the fact that this wine is sold with the intention of early consumption within 1 year of harvest. The wine is meant to be consumed very young, and thus the keyword “green.”

Is Vinho Verde the name of the grape the wine is made out of too?

Actually, the wine is made from a combination of locally grown, domestic grapes that are not as well recognized in the United States, such as Loureiro, Trajadura, Pedernã, Alvarinho, amongst a number of others.

Does the Vinho Verde region only make white wines?

No, as a matter of fact, Vinho Verde makes red wines as well, and up till the past 30 years, the majority of production in the region was an effervescent, dry red wine with low alcohol. The white wine was initially made slightly sparkling by a secondary malolactic fermentation which produced carbon dioxide. In the past few decades, however, with the onset of bulk production for exports, the wine is injected with carbon dioxide and malolactic fermentation is halted. Traditionally, the wine is also dry, but in order to appeal to export markets, many commercial labels choose to add sweetness to their wines, so be aware when you purchase locally! Regardless, Vinho Verde should be consumed within 1 year of harvest for both red and white versions, though the white wine version is more common in the United States.

What does it taste like?

The Vinho Verde white wines are typically very light bodied, with high acidity levels, and a low alcohol level around 8-10%. Depending on the region it is produced in, the wine characteristics may vary in body, alcohol, acidity, etc., but wines designated as Vinho Verde DOC cannot exceed 11.5% due to local regulations.

Where can I buy this wine?

Lucky for you Las Vegas locals, Vinho Verde is a fairly common wine in your specialty wine shops such as Total Wine and More. A quick search revealed quite a few brands to experiment with and try. The great news is, you can purchase a bottle for an average of under $10!

Hopefully this introduction to “green wine” has piqued your interest and you immediately go out there and buy some to try! Not only is it an easy-drinking wine to consume by itself, but it is also great with light foods such as seafood or light salads.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and remember to drink responsibly!

Cheers~!

Alice

*content sourced from the Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd ed., 2006