In ancient times, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans brought vines to the Iberian peninsula. Under the long Moorish rule from the 8th to the 12th century, viticulture stagnated but 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; in the 12th century they founded 18 monasteries in Portugal. King Dinis (1279-1325) promoted agriculture and viticulture on such a large scale that the proceeds were used to build up a merchant fleet, thus creating the basis for Portugal's rise to become a world power. He was therefore given the nickname "Rei lavrador" (King of the Peasants). Under the Avis kings, especially Emanuel I. (1469-1521), Portugal rose to become a leading European trading and naval power. Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) initiated voyages of discovery along the West African coast. Muscat and Malvasia grapes were planted on the rediscovered island of Madeira. A flourishing wine trade with England developed.
Portugal's most famous and best-known wine is undoubtedly port. Its great triumph began when the Methuen Treaty was concluded between England and Portugal in 1703. This treaty provided for large tariff reductions for the import of Portuguese wines. As early as 1756, the famous Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782) ordered the exact demarcation of the Douro region. Along with Chianti, this was one of the very first regions to be controlled for origin. A special role in the port wine trade was played by the Factory House opened in 1790 in Porto, where the British factors negotiated and concluded their business among themselves. With over 50%, Portugal is the world's largest producer of cork, of which about half comes from the province of Alentejo.
In the 19th century, mildew and phylloxera destroyed most of Portugal's vineyards. It was not until 1930 that the vineyards were rebuilt. After the end of the dictatorship in 1974, the changeover from the production of cheap mass wines to quality products began. Due to the climate, the country is ideal for viticulture, as the wine-growing northern part of Portugal has abundant rainfall and long, beautiful summers. The soils are mostly granite and slate. Viticulture is an extremely important economic factor in Portugal, as around 15% of the population live from it. In 2012, 6.32 million hl of wine were produced from 233,000 hectares of vineyards. White wines account for 30% and rosé and red wines for 70%. Among the most famous Portuguese wines are the dessert wines Madeira and Port, as well as Vinho Verde. However, the rosé wine Mateus, created in 1942 by the company Sogrape, founded in the same year, and similar products such as Lancers by the company Fonseca, with about 40% of the export volume, have long since overtaken this rank.
Grape variety list
A special feature are the countless indigenous vines. In the "land of 500 autochthonous grape varieties", these used to be cultivated largely as a mixed set. The often identical names or synonyms cause confusion, but more and more ancestry is being clarified by DNA analysis. It was not until the 1980s that pure varietal vineyards began to be planted, mainly due to EU regulations on quality wines. Many of the predominantly indigenous grape varieties are also found in neighbouring Spain(some with different names). With only one exception (Syrah), there is no international variety among the first 20 in the table. The grape variety table 2010:
In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation came into force with fundamental changes to the wine designations and quality levels. There are the following new designations or quality levels (see also in detail under Quality System). The traditional terms Vinho Regional and DOC are still possible as alternatives:
Vinho (formerly Vino de Mesa or table wine) = wine
Vinho: Wines without a narrower designation of origin. This lowest quality level usually involves blends from different growing regions.
IGP or IG (Indicação Geográfica Protegida) or Vinho Regional
A local wine with a protected geographical indication. The regulations contain certain criteria such as grape variety (for example, 85% must come from the area) and alcohol content, but offer relatively wide latitude. There are 14 regions for local wines; see the list below.
IPR (Indicacão de Proveniencia Regulamentada)
The former precursor to DOC was abandoned in 2011.
DOP (Denominação de Origem Protegida) or DOC (Denominacão de origem controlada)
A quality wine with a protected designation of origin. Grape varieties, minimum maturation times in barrels and bottle, 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 about 30 quality wine ranges; see the list below.
Other designations: For the age or regarding the maturation of a wine there are the designations Verde (green, no ageing), Maduro (old or matured in barrel), Reserva (red wines three years old, of which one in bottle, white wine one year, of which six months in bottle), Garrafeira (like Reserva and higher alcohol content) and Velho (red wine three, white wine two years old). The degrees of sweetness indicated on the bottle label are seco = dry, meio seco = semi-dry, meio doce = semi-sweet and doce (also adamado, suave) = sweet.
The following is a list of IGP and DOP areas alphabetically by Portuguese region (known wineries are listed there in each case)