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Description to Portugal

The semi-presidential Republic of Portugal with its capital Lisbon(Lisboa) on the Iberian Peninsula in south-west Europe covers 92,212 km². The country is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east and north by Spain. The national territory also includes two island groups in the Atlantic. These are the Azores (2,351 km²) 1,369 km west of the mainland and Madeira with Porto Santo (801 km²) 951 km from the mainland and 737 km from the coast of Africa(Morocco).

Portugal - Landkarten, Flagge und Wappen


In ancient times, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans brought vines to the Iberian Peninsula. Although viticulture stagnated under the long Moorish rule from the 8th to the 12th century, it did not come to a complete standstill despite the ban on alcohol. As in many other countries, the Roman Catholic monastic order of the Cistercians had a decisive influence on viticulture, founding 18 monasteries in Portugal in the 12th century. King Dinis (1279-1325) promoted agriculture and viticulture to such an extent that a merchant fleet could be built up with the proceeds.

The Kingdom of Portugal initiated the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. Under the Avis royal dynasty, especially Emmanuel I (1469-1521), Portugal rose to become a leading European trading and maritime power and created the first and one of the largest colonial empires with extensive possessions in Africa, Asia and South America. In the colonies, the introduction and planting of European vines had a significant influence on the development of viticulture. Muscat and Malvasia grapes were planted on the island of Madeira. A flourishing wine trade with England developed.

Portugal - Transport von Portwein auf dem Rio Douro und Portweinglas

Port wine

Portugal's most famous wine is port. Its great triumph began when the Methuen Treaty was signed between England and Portugal in 1703. This provided for large tariff reductions for the import of Portuguese wines. As early as 1756, the Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782) laid down precise demarcations for the Douro region. Alongside Chianti, this was one of the very first areas to be controlled in terms of origin.

The Factory House, opened in 1790 in Porto, where the British factors negotiated their business, played a special role in the port wine trade. A wine similar to port is Madeira from the island of the same name in the Atlantic. Big export hits with 40% of the total volume are the rosé wine Mateus from the Sogrape company, created in 1942, and similar products such as Lancers from the Fonseca company. With a share of over 50%, Portugal is the world's largest producer of cork stoppers.

Soil & climate

The elongated country has a wide variety of soil types from north to south as well as a very different climate with continental and Mediterranean influences and sometimes extreme fluctuations in summer and winter. In the cool, rainy and fertile north of Portugal, fresh wines that can be consumed rather quickly grow on barren, sandy granite soils. In the Minho region, it can rain almost every day, while the left bank of the River Guadiana in the Alentejo or parts of the Douro region often have to go many months without a drop of rain.

The climate in the Alentejo and Dão areas varies between Mediterranean and continental with large temperature fluctuations between day and night as well as summer and winter. The areas of Bairrada and Colares are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean with extreme climatic fluctuations with lots of rain and cool temperatures. The climate in the central agricultural heartland is mild all year round. It has mineral soils interspersed with gravel and benefits from its location on the River Tagus. In the far south, the climate is hot and 50% of cork production comes from here.

Regions & growing areas

Viticulture is practised throughout the mainland and to a significant extent on the two archipelagos. In the 19th century, most of Portugal's vineyards were destroyed by mildew and phylloxera. Reconstruction only began in 1930. After the end of the dictatorship in 1974, the switch from the production of cheap mass-produced wines to quality products began. Viticulture is an important economic factor in Portugal, as around 15% of the population live from it.








Península de Setúbal


  • Do Tejo - formerly Ribatejo (DOC)
  • Tejo - formerly Ribatejana (IGP)


Vinho Verde

Portugal - Karte mit Regionen und Bereichen

Grape varieties and vineyards

In 2022, the vineyards covered 190,981 hectares of vines and the wine production volume was 6.85 million hectolitres. White wines make up 30% and rosé and red wines 70%. These are often cuvées made from several grape varieties. The 250 or so grape varieties, most of which are indigenous, were also largely cultivated as Gemischter Satz in the past.

The frequent synonyms and homonyms cause confusion, but DNA analyses are clarifying more and more origins. In the 1980s, mainly due to EU regulations regarding quality wines, the cultivation of single-varietal vineyards began. Many of the grape varieties can also be found in neighbouring Spain (sometimes with different names). The grape variety index with the top 50 (Kym Anderson statistics):

Grape variety


Synonyms or name in Portugal


Tempranillo Red Aragonez, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Santiago 17.014
Touriga Franca red formerly Touriga Francesa 14.217
Castelão Francês red Castelão, João Santarém 12.580
Fernão Pires white Maria Gomes, Molinha 12.138
Touriga Nacional red Carabuñera, Mortagua, Touriga Fina 11.411
Trincadeira Preta red Tinta Amarela, Trincadeira 10.493
Baga red Baga de Louro, Moreto 6.750
Síria white Códega, Crato Branco, Roupeiro 6.438
Arinto white Arinto de Bucelas, Pedernã 5.409
Tinta Barroca red Boca de Mina, Tinta Barocca 4.733
Alicante Henri Bouschet red - 4.547
Loureiro white Branco Redondos, Loureira, Marqués 4.402
Vinhão red Sousão, Espadeiro Basto 4.055
Syrah red - 4.017
Marufo red Brujidera, Mourisco 3.367
Malvasia Fina white Arinto do Dão, Assario, Boal, Gual 2.922
Alvarelhão red Brancelhão 2.860
Palomino white Listrão, Malvasia Rei, Palomino Fino 2.594
Mencía red Jaen, Jaen du Dão, Loureiro Tinto 2.561
Cabernet Sauvignon red - 2.346
Caladoc red - 2.180
Rabigato white Preto Gordo, Tinta Carvalha du Douro 1.969
Malvasia Preta red Moreto, Mureto, Pinheira Roxa 1.933
Antão Vaz white Antonio Vaz 1.768
Trajadura white Treixadura (Spain), Trajadura Branca 1.550
Azal Branco white Azal, Azal da Lixa, Carvalha 1.443
Alfrocheiro red Albarín Negro, Tinta Bastardinha 1.206
Trousseau Noir red Bastardinho, Bastardo 1.166
Rufete red Rifete, Rufeta, Tinta Pinheira 1.145
Tinta Carvalha red Preto Gordo, Tinta Carvalha du Douro 1.113
Diagalves white Carnal, Dependura, Diego Alves 1.090
Bical white Bical de Bairrada, Borrado das Moscas 1.076
Muscat Blanc white Moscatel Branco, Moscatel do Douro 1.031
Viosinho white Veozinho Verdeal 916
Damaschino white Alicante Branco 880
Malvasia de Colares white Malvasía 801
Santarena red Santareno 724
Avesso white Bornal, Bornão, Borracal Branco 699
Vital white Boal Bonifacio, Malvasia Corada 659
Negramoll red Mollar, Saborinho, Tinta de Madeira 605
Godello white Gouveio, Verdelho do Dão 584
Gouveio Real white - 581
Rabo de Ovelha white Rabigato, Rabo de Ovelha de Cola Res 563
Chardonnay white - 547
Carrega Branco white Branca de Monterrei, Carrega 512
Muscat d'Alexandrie white - 509
Cornifesto red Cornifesto Tinto 508
Merlot red - 482
Seara Nova white - 471
Manteúdo white Listán de Huelva 466

Wine categories / quality levels

In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation came into force with fundamental changes to wine designations and quality levels. The following new designations and quality levels have been introduced (see also details under Quality System). The traditional terms Vinho Regional and DOC are still possible as alternatives:


Wine without narrower designation of origin. This lowest quality level usually involves blends from different growing regions.

IGP or IG (Indicação Geográfica Protegida) or
VR (

Regional wine with a protected geographical indication. The regulations are considerably less strict than DOC. The regulations contain certain criteria, such as grape variety and alcohol content, but offer relatively wide leeway. In principle, all grape varieties authorised in the region can be used as an alternative, but at least 85% must come from the area. There are 14 areas of country wine.

IPR (Indicacão de Proveniencia Regulamentada)

The former preliminary stage IPR to DOC was discontinued in 2011. Most of the former IPR areas were upgraded to DOC as part of a reorganisation.

DOP (Denominação de Origem Protegida) or
DOC (Denominacão de Origem Controlada)

Quality wine with protected designation of origin. Grape varieties, minimum maturation periods in barrels and bottles, minimum values for alcohol content, acidity and total extract (dry extract), as well as colour and aroma are prescribed. A sensory and analytical test must be carried out before marketing. There are 31 quality wine areas.

Further regulations

For the age or maturation of a wine, there are the designations Verde (green, no ageing), Maduro (old or matured in the barrel), Reserva (red wines three years old, one of which in the bottle, white wine one year, of which six months in the bottle), Garrafeira (like Reserva and higher alcohol content) and Velho (red wine three years, white wine two years). The degrees of sweetness indicated on the label are seco = dry, meio seco = semi-dry, meio doce = semi-sweet and doce (also adamado, suave) = sweet.

Map: © Goruma
Flag: by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, Public domain, Link
Coat of arms: by Tonyjeff, Public domain, Link
Douro: by Thomas Istvan Seibel; from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Port wine glass: By Jon Sullivan, Public domain, Link
Portugal map viticulture: ViniPortugal
Text source Soil & climate: Rui Falcão

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