The Portuguese Red Blend is a flexible term used to describe the numerous and varied compositions of blended red wines made from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties. Portugal is famous for the fortified Port wines of Douro, but also notorious for having hundreds of different grape varieties planted within its borders.
It used to be said that even Portuguese growers didn't know what they had planted in their vineyards. This may still hold an element of truth, but since Portugal's entry to the European Union in 1986, the country has undergone a huge viticultural revolution. This has included systematically identifying the varieties and clones grown in each vineyard, and focusing attention on those grapes better suited to producing more quality wine.
Varieties such as Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (Portugal's name for Tempranillo) are relatively well known and frequently produced as varietal wines, although blended red wines are much more common. The workhorse varieties Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca are typically joined by any number of regional specialties such as Castelao, Sousao, Trincadeira das Pratas, Baga, Alfrocheiro Preto and many others. The international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are also included in red wine blends with increasing frequency.
Traditionally, these wines have been labeled according to the region in which they were grown, rather than the varietal composition of their contents. However, blending practices in Portuguese wine are not as overwhelmingly complex as they once were, and modern labeling conventions have helped to demystify the country's winemaking. Wines that were at one time simply labeled Douro or Dao will now often contain some text on the rear label explaining the bottle's composition and proportions to the consumer.
Food matches for Portuguese Red Blends include:
- Cozido a Portuguesa (pork and beef stew)
- Chilli con carne with rice and cilantro
- Fried morcilla (black pudding)