Dao, Portugal- The Touriga Nacional grape creates full-bodied wines with an intense, complex bouquet of ripe cassis, violets, basil, pepper and cinnamon aromas. This wine's acidity is well balanced by ripe tannins and concentrated fruit. The finish is long, smooth and elegant.
The history of Portuguese wine goes back some 4,000 years to the ancient Phoenicians, seafarers who established colonies across the Mediterranean and planted vines along the way. Yet the world is only now discovering the wines of Portugal, which have been through revolutionary change in just the past three decades. The best Portuguese wines are emerging in world markets as carefully crafted and delicious wines, typically at tremendous value for the quality.
Portugal was long ago a leader in exports, sending its wine throughout Europe as early as Renaissance times. Wine merchants created Portuguese Port wine in the Douro Valley in the 1600s by adding brandy to table wine to keep it from spoiling on hot, bumpy trips around Europe. This Portuguese fortified wine became known and imitated all over the world, eventually overshadowing all other wines from Portugal.
Red grapes produce an amazing array of red wine types: from the boldest, heartiest big reds, to elegant and structured dry red wines, to sweet and simple picnic sippers. So much depends on where grapes are from and what the winemaker does with them, but the most important factor is the variety of the grape itself.
There are the familiar international red varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and more – produced in the world’s top winemaking regions. Then there are regional red varieties, which produce types of red wine nearly synonymous with their place of origin, such as Sangiovese, from Italy, and Tempranillo, from Spain. There are hundreds more red grape varieties regularly used to make wine around the globe.
Most red wine varietals fare best in warmer climates, where they can ripen fully before harvesting. So climate and soil – as well as market demand – determine the best grape types to plant in a particular vineyard. In Europe, centuries of tradition, trial and error determined what wine grapes grew best where, and modern regulations have enshrined those winemaking practices into law.
Our red wine guide details the flavor profiles and regions of the most popular red varieties – plus a few you may not yet know. Use it as a road map for Total Wine & More’s selection of more than 8,000 wines. You’ll learn everything there is to know about your favorite red wines, and we’re sure you’ll find some new red wines to love.