Portuguese wines offer ‘accessible adventure’

Portuguese winemaking is “in its prime”, and its affordable wines offer consumers “accessible adventure”, according to Alex Hunt MW of Berkmann Wine Cellars.

In the 12 months to March 2020, Portuguese wine sales at Berkmann totalled 48,000 bottles – a 433% increase on sales in 2015.

Enjoying success outside of Portuguese restaurants, drops from the country are flying off menus at a number of top London restaurants, including Cornerstone, Gymkhana and Hoppers, since on-trade venues were allowed to reopen in July.

Portuguese wines were among the top sellers in Berkmann’s pop-up online wine shop, Help 4 Hospitality, which helped to raise money for the struggling on-trade during the pandemic, with Prunus Dão red and white and Azahar Vinho Verde proving particularly popular.

“Portugal has begun to find a much stronger foothold in the UK’s consumption patterns in the last five years, creating a new national identity of interesting, eclectic wines that offer excellent value at all price points,” said Hunt.

“Portuguese wines offer an accessible adventure: they’re unfamiliar without being too challenging. In recent years, winemakers have gained in knowledge and confidence, and have been unshackled from the obligation to adhere to a generic international style. Portuguese winemaking is now in its prime,” he added.

Vinho Verde is also proving a hit at M&S: “Vinho Verde is a favourite among our customers,” M&S senior wine buyer Lizzy Unite, db’s Young Achiever of the Year, said.

“Over the summer we saw an impressive 30% uplift in sales with customers making the most of its refreshing spritz during the hotter months, but it remains a popular choice throughout the year due to its lovely bright flavours and naturally lower abv,” she added.

Rather than leading with a flagship grape like Malbec in Argentina or Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Portugal boasts a plethora of native grapes and diverse array of wine styles.

What many of the wines do have in common is that they over-deliver on quality for their price point, offering consumers a lot of bang for their buck.

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