The locals living around the Lisbon DO of Portugal frequently enjoy Vinho Leve wines. All producers make their own version of this quaffable, low-ABV wine, often opening up their wineries to locals to come fill a jug to take home or to the beach. But what is Vinho Leve? Literally translated to “light wine”, the energy of the wine can’t be. The cool climate influence of the Atlantic boosts up the natural acidity of the fruit and subsequent wine and the mineral rich soils provide the salinity and substance.
For the Portuguese, there is a saying that “Winter holidays in the west.” Tourists to the beaches of Lisbon are regularly surprised to find that summer temperatures are much milder compared to the scorching temperature of interior. While the misty mornings and occasional clouds may lead surfers to wear warming gear, the grape vines thrive and product balanced wines of a natural acidity.
When the day warms up, locals and holiday visitors both enjoy the young, slightly effervescent white and rosé Vinho Leve wines alongside fresh seafood straight off the boat. The Alta Onda wines are made by the A.C. Vermelha cooperative that combines the resources of small family vineyards averaging less than 1 hectare a piece. Local white varieties are typically include Arinto, Fernão Pires, Malvasia, Seara-Nova, and Moscatel. The reds include Aragonês (Tempranillo) and Castelão in addition to the smaller representation of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Miúda and Trincadeira.