Often Vinho Verde tops wine lovers' lists for best sips of the summer. On a hot day, these light- bodied, crisp, acidic, spritzy whites are a perfect choice of drink. Many grapes are used throughout the sub-regions of Vinho Verde, but if you're just getting started, I recommend focusing on bottles labeled Alvarinho. Vinho Verdes made from 100% Alvarinho grapes are consistently great whites. Yes, this name sounds just like another fab white pouring from Spain, Albariño, but these whites are all Portuguese.
On a recent visit to one of the smaller producers of the region, Soalheiro (www.soalheiro.com) I was charmed to find a brother/ sister team (he makes the wine, she makes the cured pork products — totally love it!) who served up a vertical tasting that proved Vinho Verde from a stellar producer, though seemingly delicate on the surface, has the brawn to go the distance in the cellar too. Vintage after vintage these wines proved to be delicious, interesting and age-worthy. Since it had the moxie to stand up to time I thought why not give these whites a spin in the cocktail shaker and see how they hold up there. Since this is the 10-Minute Happy Hour, I thought it a great tribute to the Soalheiro family duo to toast with a Vinho Verde cocktail, of course served side-by-side a plate of cured meats. After a few experiments with spirits and Vinho Verde I found its perfect playmate. When this wine is mixed with gin, the combination of the slightly spritzy light white with an aromatic junipery gin makes a very refreshing cold cocktail sure to make your happy hour even happier.
Vinho Verde & Gin Spin Cocktail3 ounces Vinho Verde 1 ounce gin Green olives for garnish (which also go nicely with the cured pork) or you can go with a lemon twist for garnish In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add the wine and the gin. Stir until chilled through. Strain into a glass and garnish with olives.* * If serving in a Martini glass, I recommend placing the olives in the glass first to avoid overflow if you add them after you've already filled your glass with the cocktail. You can however, serve them on the side, as my friend Deb always says they take up too much room in the glass — which she feels is better reserved for the cocktail.
Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky. Related: Julia Child Makes the Perfect French Omelet (Images: Maureen Petrosky)