Wines of Portugal: The Evolution

The great cultures of the ancient world—the Greeks and Carthaginians—first brought grape and wine production to the land that would eventually become known as Portugal. When it was part of the Roman Empire, Lusitania – as the Romans called Portugal –produced wine that was in high demand back in the capital city of Rome.

Adventurous 15th century navigators and seafarers stocked up on Portuguese wine – not only to sustain them on their long voyages, but also as a useful trading commodity. Soon, they helped to develop a worldwide demand for Portuguese wines. By the 18th century, England was importing more wine from Portugal than France, overtaking previous French favourites such as Bordeaux.

Madeira wine – produced in the tropical climate of one of Portugal’s island regions – was widely used by the original colonists of the United States, including President George Washington, who used it for ceremonial events.As a result of this history, Portugal is one the oldest and newest producers of wine in the world. This European nation has undergone nothing short of a revolution in the last decade. Billions have been invested to make Portugal’s wine industry one of the most modern in the world.

The quality of Portugal’s wines is earning them new followers worldwide. Portuguese table wine has captured the trade reviews in the last few years on several of the top U.S. wine magazines. These high ratings coincide with a significant increase in sales the wines have seen recently; over the past five years, sales of Portuguese table wines have increased steadily and sales of red wines alone grew by 125 percent in the United States.