If you crave coolness, sometimes the best plan is to swim against the stream. Everyone eating steak? Order the shrimp scampi. Friends dressing up? Go ahead, wear your ripped jeans.
And with St. Patrick’s Day being so famously beer-soaked, your against-the-grain cred will come from drinking wine. Not any old vino, mind you, but one particularly suited to this casual, joyous occasion: Vinho Verde (VEEN-yoh VEHR-day), a light white wine from various native grapes in Portugal.
Here are five reasons why:
1. Green wine: Vinho Verde is actually Portuguese for “green wine,” not for its color (although that can sometimes be faintly green), but for its youth and the fact that it tastes freshest within a year or two of its production.
2. Green taste and origins: Furthering Vinho Verde’s connection to the color of clover is its propensity toward a “green” taste, be that a citric sprightliness like limes, a green apple-y tartness or a honeydew-like freshness. If that weren’t green enough, its coastline-hugging region in northern Portugal has a misty, verdant appearance.
3. Priced like beer: Often ringing up at $7 or less, Vinho Verde is a screaming bargain.
4. Easy to find and select: Many larger wine stores stock at least a few brands and because quality is pretty consistent across the board, you don’t have worry about sourcing a particular producer.
5. Good-luck match: Vinho Verde’s light body and melony zest extend a glad hand to any manner of seafood, including stews and fish and chips. Its green character makes it ready for cabbage-y and herbal creations, such as traditional Scallion Champ. Finally, the wine’s ability to cut through the richness of Guy Fieri’s St. Patrick’s Linguine or Alton Brown’s Corned Beef Hash can inspire a dose of Irish pride in all of us.
Every week, Mark Oldman — wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the series The Winemakers — shares with readers the basics of wine, while making it fun and practical. In the coming weeks, he’ll tell you what to ask at a wine store, at what temperature to serve it and share his must-have wine tools.