Cocktails & Spirits

Cheap Wines That Don't Suck: Vinho Verde

Think Portuguese wines and the first one that probably comes to mind is port. Sweet, syrupy, high alcohol. . . just what you want to drink in the South Florida summer blast furnace, when it's hot enough to make your face melt and humid enough to grab a handful of air and wring the water right out of it. Yummers!

Or maybe not.

Save the port for warming up friends in the frozen tundra and instead pour yourself a nice chilled glass of Vinho Verde. Literally, "green wine," a reference not to its color but its fresh and lively youth, this low-alcohol (between nine and 11 percent) and low-priced (under $10) white wine with just a touch of a refreshing, champagne-like spritz, is the perfect antidote to face melting and humid air wringing.

There are plenty of Vinho Verdes on the market, though you'll probably have to go to a real liquor store or wine shop to find them (if you see one that's more than a year old, keep looking). My current favorite is the 2008 Nobilis, which can usually be found at Total Wine & More for the princely sum of $6.99. There's nothing complicated or wine snobby about it; imagine a slightly fizzy blend of green apple, lime and grapefruit that goes down just as easy on the beach as it does at a table piled with stone crab, steamed clams, chilled shrimp, grilled lobster or whatever your favorite seafood delicacy.

After all, this ain't the frozen tundra.

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Bill Citara