The best table wines are produced in the north of the country around the River Douro and you will find a number of good full bodied reds such as the Quinta do Crasto and Redoma originate from this region and a few good white wines from south of the river. The world famous Mateus Rose comes from the coastal region of Bairrada but the carbonated medium sweet flavour is not rated highly by wine connoisseurs. From north of the River Douro which reaches the sea in Porto, is the Vinho Verde region that produces both red and white wine although modern production techniques may spoil the drinking experience to purists. The slight fizz originally created through secondary fermentation is now often added by way of injected carbon dioxide but you could have some fun using the old methods of trial and error to find your favourite bottle from the region.
Port is a red wine fortified with brandy that was originally added to provide a preservative function to the red wine whilst being delivered over extended sea journeys. The affect of adding brandy to the red wine is to kill the yeast and so stop the fermentation process but the eventual alcoholic content is still higher at around 20%, compared to an average bottle of red wine at around 12%. It is possible to buy Port as either a red or a white variety although the former is far more abundant.
Madeira is produced in the island of the same name that lies to the west of Morocco and it has similar characteristics to Port. The fermentation process is stopped in a similar way but the wine is heated to around 50 Celsius and then cooled very slowly over a period of months. The result is a smooth and long lived fortified wine of alcoholic content of approximately 20%.
Recently the Algarve has seen a resurgence of smaller privately owned vineyards marketing their own labels. The most famous of which is the Vida Nova label owned by Sir Cliff Richard. Others include Monte de Casteleja at Lagos, Quinta do Morgado da Torre near Portimão, Quinta dos Vales at Estombar, Adega do Cantor at Guia, Barranco Longo at Algos, and Quinta dos Correias at Luz de Tavira.
The red wines of the Algarve tend to be full bodied with a rich fruity flavour, low acidity and high in alcohol content. Produced primarily for tourist and local consumption, very little of the wine is exported.
Within the Algarve there are four recognised wine growing regions:
The Lagoa region of the Algarve includes the municipalities of Albufeira and Lagoa. The warm mild climate and soft sandy soil produces an easy to drink wine with a rich distinct flavour, ruby red in colour with a high alcohol content. The white wine tends to be soft and full bodied.
The Lagos region of the Algarve includes the municipalities of Aljezur, Lagos and Sagres. The smooth and fruity red wine has a low acidity level whilst the white wine, lemon-straw in colour tends to be full-bodied.
The Tavira region of the Algarve includes the municipalities of Castro Marim, Faro, Olhão, São Brás de Alportel, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António. The area produces a soft, pale-coloured red wine with a fruity aroma. The smooth white wine, almost straw in colour is full-bodied.