While many people will be drinking beer, we will be drinking “green” wine this St. Patrick’s Day! But what does “green wine” mean? And what makes a wine taste green? Here is your guide to types of green wine!
Green wine typically refers to young wines, and two of our favorites are Vinho Verde, which means “Green Wine” in Portuguese and Gruner Veltliner, which translates to “Green Wine of Veltlin” in German. We spoke to Nicole Dalton, founder of the Chelsea Wine Society, about why Vinho Verde is one of her favorite wines to sip.
Vinho Verde “Green Wine”
Vinho Verde is not actually a grape variety, but a lush and green wine region that stretches from the Portuguese/Spanish border to Porto, Portugal. There are nine sub regions and are 25 different white grape varieties that are typically used to make a Vinho Verde, including Arinto, Azal and Avesso grapes. “Verde”, or “green” in Portuguese, refers to both the lush, green region itself and the young nature of the wine, as it typically is consumed when the wine is under one year of age.
Vinho Verde is known for its fizz, which derived from carbon dioxide getting trapped in freshly fermented wine during the bottling process. However, even though wine practices have changed, winemakers will often add carbon dioxide to artificially create this “fizz” on the palate that people expect from Vinho Verde.
“Vinho Verde is one of my favorite wines to drink in the summertime,” says Dalton. “Beautiful citrus fruits, a hint of sea spray and bright acidity make these wines the perfect sip with friends over a dozen oysters.”
Indeed, known for its citrus hints, acidity and light texture, Vinho Verde is perfect for sipping during hot summer months. Because of its young age and simple profile, a bottle of Vinho Verde will also typically not break the bank, with a solid bottle running between 10-20 dollars. Perfect with seafood, potato dishes or on it’s own over ice, we will definitely be sipping Vinho Verde this St. Patrick’s Day!
Gruner Veltliner “Green Wine of Veltlin”
Another popular, bit more complex “green” wine is Gruner Veltliner, which derives from the Austrian winemaking region. Very popular, there are roughly 50,000 acres of Gruner being grown throughout the world. A sensitive grape, Gruner is typically only grown in Southern Europe because the soil in Northern Europe is not conducive to proper ripening. This grape grows best in deep loess soils and is particularly sensitive during flowering.
Gruner is known for its young “green” age as well and is typically consumed when it is under two years of age. Though the profile for Gruner always has citrus hints of lime, lemon and grapefruit, Gruner has two different styles. The first is the most popular style, and the one that is found the most throughout imported Gruners in the United States. These Gruners are very light, and dry with citrus hints and an explosion of acidity of the palate. The second style also maintains the acidic explosion that Gruners are popular for, but is richer and nuttier.
Gruner tends to have a peppery taste, and because of the high acidity it is served best with spicy food or on its own over ice. We love sipping a nice glass of Gruner, sitting by the ocean and reading a good book!
Green Bell Pepper Pyrazines
Another form of “green” wine is due to Pyrazines, an aromatic compound found within Bordeaux related grapes, which can cause wines to take on a steamed asparagus or bell pepper type texture. Pyrazines were once deemed the mark of an inattentive vineyard, as they can be altered by controlling the leafy part of a vine.
However, many areas, especially Chile, have been marked by these vegetable Pyrazine hints. While many people are turned off to the taste, it can also cause a wine to become more complex. Carmenere, a Chilean Bordeaux derived red wine with a high Pyrazine concentration, has grown in popularity due to its complexity from the Pyrazines. Carmenere is filled with hints of mint, bell pepper, green peppercorn, kiwi and cocoa.
Chilean winemakers have focused their efforts on making this wine more palatable to the world-wide population and discovered that adding small amounts of Syrah or Petit Verdot allows fruit flavors to pop.
While Pyrazines were deemed as a flaw due to early picking, Chile has really found a way to embrace them and build them into the personality of their wine region.