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Reading wine labels - PORTUGAL

Wine labels are the cover for the wine. They can tell you a whole story or they will just say that there is wine in the bottle. Wine labels can be different depending on the country, region, or even producer from where the wine is coming from.


Words that are usually written on a wine label are (not necessary all at the same time):

- grape variety, - the country of origin,

- quality designation, - the name of the wine,

- name of the winery or the producer, - a vintage year,

- the place where the wine was produced/bottled.


In this post, you will be able to read and learn about some of the most common words that appear on Portuguese wine labels and about the basic quality designations.


Quality designations:

DOC - Denominacão de Origem Controlada = means Controlled Designation of Origin. / DOP - Denominacão de Origem Protegida = Protected Designation of Origin.

There are 31 regions, where only 29 show on maps since two of the regions have the same footprint. Each region has strictly defined borders, max yields, permitted and allowed grape varieties. All the wines need to undergo an official tasting, be tested and approved.

* same as French AOC.


IGP - Indicacão Geográfica Protegida = Protected Geographical Indication. /Vinho Regional = regional wine.

There are 14 regions. Less strict rules for wine production. Some high-quality producers choose this designation because they use grape varieties that are not permitted for the local DOC classification. The wine must follow designated grape varieties, minimum alcohol content, but producers have high levels of individuality and creativity allowed.


Vinho or Vinho de Portugal = Wine from Portugal.

Simple wines, no rules for quality. Replacing the older designation Vinho de Mesa. Used by ambitious growers that do not want to work inside the official rules and regulations.

SimpWords that appear on Portuguese wine labels:

  • Adega - winery

  • Vinha - vineyard

  • Vinhas Velhas - old vines

  • Quinta/Herdade - farm or estate

  • Amarzém or Cave - cellar

  • Branco - white

  • Tinto - red

  • Rosado - rosé

  • Espumante - sparkling

  • Colheita - vintage

  • Doce - sweet

  • Seco - Dry

  • Bruto - dry

  • Enmgarrafado (an origem) - estate bottled

  • Garrafeira - extra-aged wine

  • Maduro - old/matured

  • Palhete - blend of red and white grape for making pink wine

Label 1: Cossart Cordon (producer), 5 years old (wine with a flavor profile as a 5-year-old), Sercial (Madeira style), Fine dry (wine style).

Label 2: Vinha Barrosa (direct translation = wine from Barrosa), Criado e Engarrafado par (produced and bottled by), Luis Pato (producer).

Label 3: Niepoort (high-class wine-producing family), Porto (DOC classified), Colheita (vintage-dated wine - 14 years in barrel before bottling).

Label 4: Mouchão (producer/named wine), Vinho Regional Alentejano (wine region), 1901 logo (one of the oldest wine estates in the region).

Label 5: Conde Villar (brand name).

Label 6: Foneseca Guimaraens (producer).

Label 7: Vinha d'Ervideira (wine from Ervideira-producer), colheita seleccionada (selected harvest).

Label 8: José Maria da Fonseca (producer), Hexagon (brand name).

Label 9: Quinta da Rede (producer).

As always have a WINEderful day! :)

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