Portuguese red from The Co-op
There are some countries that you know routinely make good wines but somehow just don't know where to start or how to sum up the country.
You would, of course, be massively missing out on what these countries have to offer if that's all you knew of them, but as a starting point, for something typical and reliable to try, these are all a good place to start.
Portugal is one of those countries where it's harder to point to a particular wine, region or style as a gateway to the country. Yes, there's port and vinho verde and they are very good indeed, but they are a little ... well, niche or at least not especially versatile; port is strong and sweet, vinho verde is very light.
Despite being a small country, Portugal has varied terroirs, from Atlantic to continental, and numerous indigenous grape varieties. This complexity and variety, that is fascinating for the enthusiast, can prove daunting for the novice. You are unlikely to find a Portuguese Cab or Sauvignon Blanc, even if there are plenty of interesting Crisp Whites and Big Reds.
In an attempt to make their wines more recognisable, the Portuguese renamed the Estremadura region (not the same as Spain's similar sounding Extremadura) to Lisboa. It is a sizeable region surrounding the capital with several sub-regions.
In practice, all you need to know about this wine is that it's a well-made fruity red with plenty of ripeness.
It's also got a cute cartoon label with a picture of a distinctive Lisbon tram and a guy grilling sardines on a barbecue.
You could try learning the names of the grapes if you want (Tinta Roriz, Castelão and Touriga Nacional), but in practice, you should just treat this as a "house wine" or easy quaffer.
The other thing to know about this wine is that it almost broke one retailer's website after Susie Barrie MW recommended the wine on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen in August 2015. Within hours of the show airing, the wine had sold out, clocking up orders for a further 30,000 bottles over the rest of the weekend.
Sometimes, that can be all it takes.
Porta 6, 2019, Lisbon (£8, The Co-op) ripe forest fruits, eucalyptus, sweet spices and woodsy undergrowth; jammy blackcurrant fruit, pencil shavings; plush and viscose with a supple texture; long with good underpinnings.
Well made and thoroughly enjoyable.
Match with pepperoni pizza, barbecue sausages or burger and chips.
On special offer at the Co-op; reduced from £8 to £7 February 3rd to 23rd inclusive.
Also recommended by Olly Smith who makes it a Wine of the week: Porta Seis Red 2018 - Olly Smith
Also available at Majestic at the slighter higher price of £9.49 / £8.49 Mix Six: Porta 6 2018, Lisbon - Majestic Wine