NV Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Tinto

A Red? From Vinho Verde?

About six weeks ago or so, I ventured into the lovely K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco looking for Portuguese wine. I found that lovely Quinta do Crasto Douro I liked so very much, but while I was there I also grabbed this $7 oddity: a red wine from Vinho Verde.

As it turns out, while the vast majority of the wine exported to the United States from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region is white, something like half of the wine produced within the region is red. Primarily for local consumption, there just isn’t an international market for what they call Vinho Verde Tinto.

And, frankly, I can see why.

This wine is weird. First, the admonition on the label to “Serve Chilled” throws those of us used to drinking red wine at room temperature a bit for a loop. Second, I’m just not used to lots of still wine that is non-vintage, but here’s one of those as well (this, admittedly, could be mostly my own inexperience talking). But are you ready for this? Red wine that tastes like apple?

Yeah, apple. To the full notes:

The color of the wine is dark purple in the very core, and lightens to a more pastel purple at the edges. It really doesn’t look “red” at all. On the nose—oh, the nose on this wine—I get an overall impression of overripe apples that have fallen to the ground in an orchard. You know that smell of apple orchards in autumn? If you don’t, remedy that, but if you do, you’ll know what I’m getting at: sourness, bitterness, and yet, sweetness in the air as well. The nose here also shows off some wet leather, and something that frankly smelled like beef jerky. Not totally like beef jerky, but yeah, kind of jerkyesque.

There is a strange tongue-drying tannicity to this wine that, oddly enough, seems borne out further by the fact that it is served chilled. However, this goes against basically everything I know about wine (take that for what it’s worth). More overripe fruit, and on the back of the tongue and after you swallow, you are left with a finish that resembles—almost perfectly—the taste of Granny Smith apple skin. Sour, slightly bitter, a little mealy.

Again, this wine is weird. And frankly, I can’t recommend it. But it was an interesting look into what is apparently a commonly-enjoyed (although apparently more often food-paired) wine from a specific region of the world. Fun, but not something I’m likely to enjoy again unless I’m sitting in a cafe in Porto.

Verdict: 79/100

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