Portuguese wines, an old world to discover
The origins of Portugal's wines date back to about 2,000 b.C. when the mythical and hypothetical civilization of Tartessos flourished, where they functioned as exchange coins. Then, in the second century, the Romans contributed to the consolidation of Portuguese wine production since Rome was skyrocketing consumption and thus requiring increasing production.
With the foundation of Portugal in 1143, wine played an important role in religious ceremonies and thus became part of the diet of medieval man. Later, in the mid-sixteenth century, with the Douro Valley being the first wine region to be settled (dating from the sixteenth century), Lisbon was the center of consumption and distribution of wine of the empire, and Portuguese wine had reached the four corners of the world. Moscatel de Setúbal, Carcavelos, Dão, Colares and Vinho Verde will then join port wine and douro table wines.
Portuguese wines are highly gastronomic because the country has a world within itself, with diverse soil types. Portugal has clay soils, granite, shale, limestone, and sandy, each one contributing to each region, presenting different characteristics in its wines. No other country is as diverse as Portugal, having more than 250 native varieties and a terroir conducive to their development, providing distinctive characteristics to wines.
From 1986 to 2000, The concept of "Designation of Origin" is then harmonized with Community legislation, and "Regional Wine" is regulated, meaning table wines with geographical indication began to circulate, reinforcing the quality policy of Portuguese wines.
The Portuguese winemakers are specialists in blends and still maintain many traditions, such as "Pisa a Pé" (Foot trading and fermentation in "lagar" (open tanks)) , "Vinhos de Talha" (Fermentation in amphoras (clay pots)) and "Vinhos de Curtimenta" (White wine made like a red wine, with skin contact during fermentation) in many of their farms in the production and valorization of the concept of old vineyards.
Portugal has the largest variety of "autóctone" grape types (country's natives) in Europe with 2.7 types per 1000 km², followed by Italy with 1.0 types per 1000 km² and France with 0.42 types per 1000 km².
Portugal, as of 2021, is the 9th biggest wine exporter in the world, reaching 589.6 million euros with a production of 6.3 million hectoliters, making it the 11th wine producer in the world and 7th country with the largest viticulture area worldwide.
The Portuguese are the people who most appreciate wines in the world with an internal consumption of about 455 million liters, an average of 52.1 liters/year per capita, surpassing the Italians and the French, who have an average of 46.6 and 46 liters/year, respectively.
Concerning Portuguese wine production, 90% of the country's areas are declared as apt to receive both certifications of controlled denomination of origin (D.O.C.) and protected geographical indication (I.G.P.). Portugal also boasts of thirteen viticulture regions with excellent quality control. These are Porto and Douro (1st region in the world to have the status of controlled denomination of origin, where the concept was born for the production of Port wine in 1675), Tavarosa and Varosa, Vinhos Verdes, Trás-os-Montes, Bairrada, Dão, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Beira Interior, Algarve, and the Azores archipelago and Madeira Island (with Madeira wine being known and appreciated by the navigators and explorators since the 15th century).