Sometimes wines get pigeonholed into specific roles. Champagne, for example, has a reputation as a wine just for celebrations. Vinho verde is a wine many treat solely as a summertime thirst-quencher. Its low alcohol and refreshing spritz of CO2 suit this purpose, but there’s a synergy between this bone-dry, lively white and seafood that continues year-round. The following three are outstanding examples, and each costs $10 or less.
Quinta da Azevedo Vinho Verde 2011 ($9, Winestone)
When the word “Quinta” appears on a Portuguese label, it denotes that the grapes are grown at a single property, and that the wine is estate-bottled. Quinta bottles represent a tiny fraction of the region’s production, but they are generally among the best wines. With a bracing acidity, this one has a floral, lime-like flavor. Its minerality makes the Azevedo a great choice with any mildly sauced fish, or with fried clams.
Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2011 ($10, Marty’s Liquors)
Aveleda is the region’s largest producer, and this Quinta wine is from the fifth generation Guedes family’s showcase property. Featuring more body and roundness than the average vinho verde, with pear-like, honeyed flavors, it’s an ideal aperitif, or a wonderfully vibrant match to spicy fish dishes.
Broadbent Vinho Verde NV ($10, The Wine Emporium)
This is a bright, refreshing, explosively crisp wine with tart apple and lemon notes. Only 9 percent alcohol, this blend of loureiro, trajadura and pedernã is a natural for ceviche, sushi or raw shellfish. It’s also great with smoked fish. Very pale, almost silvery in color, it’s a yeast-accented wine that should be consumed quite chilled for maximum enjoyment.
Master of Wine Sandy Block is vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.