This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080416.php.
Recession buster - Vinho Verde
Frail dollar, pumped-up Euro: What's a frugal wine lover to do?
I'd be interested to hear your recession-beating tricks, and hope you'll check in to our online ">WineLovers Discussion Group to share them.
For my part, I'm willing to bite my lip and pay a few extra dollars, pesos, Euros or pounds sterling to continue enjoying the wines I love.
But troubled economic times inspire me to kick up my level of attention to the wines that offer a lot of bang for relatively little buck; the bargains that wine enthusiasts esteem for quality-price ratio or, in slangy shorthand, "QPR."
Knowing that a lot of you feel the same way, I'm making a special effort to ensure that a fair share of the wines featured in this column meet the QPR standard: cheap but good. Let's call them "recession busters."
One reliable prospect in this category (subject to a small asterisk that we'll get to shortly) is the Portuguese white wine Vinho Verde ("Veen-yo Vehrd"). The name translates as "green" wine, but this is a reference to its fresh youthfulness, not its hue, as Vinho Verde is just as, well, straw colored or light golden as any other, er, "white" wine.
And - here comes that asterisk I mentioned - Vinho Verde really does need to be drunk up young and fresh. When it loses that youthful fruit, it loses its soul. The wine that's deliciously fresh and crisp when sampled in a Portuguese seaside seafood restaurant isn't so appealing when you pick a dusty, four-year-old bottle off a retail shelf in another part of the world.
Happily, speedy modern transportation and, increasingly, the use of sturdy screw caps (even in Portugal, center of the cork industry) can go a long way to keep the Vinho Verde you taste at home nearly as fresh as the wine you quaffed on vacation.
And best of all, many good brands of Vinho Verde, including today's tasting and the very low-price Gazela Vinho Verde reported last autumn, are deliciously inexpensive, showing up on U.S. shelves for less than $10 and, occasionally, for as little as $5. Now, that;s a recession-buster.
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José Maria da Fonseca 2007 "Twin Vines" Vinho Verde ($9)
Transparent, pale straw color. Very fresh citrus aromas seem focused on limes and lemons. Just as fresh on the palate, crisp and quenching, no visible bubbles but a distinct prickle of carbonation on the tongue. Near-dry and appropriately acidic, a wine made to go with shellfish, and relatively low (10%) alcohol qualifies it as a quaffable aperitif for spring and summer. U.S. importer: Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Fla. (March 31, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Made for Portugal's bounty of seafood and fish, Vinho Verde goes well with just about anything from salt water. It was an excellent match with linguine in white clam sauce.
VALUE: Exceptional quality at a single-digit price (sometimes found discounted as low as $6), it's a fine pick for recessionary times.
WHEN TO DRINK: Best drunk very young and very fresh; happily this one is packaged under a sturdy modern screw cap to keep it that way for a year or two.
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