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It's Easy Being Green with Vinho Verde

Lively and oh-so-crisp wines with a touch of sparkle

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If you like your wines round and ripe, or with a touch of sweetness, you can stop reading now. Vinho verde, which literally means "green wine," is lean, lively and oh-so-crisp, with a touch of sparkle from residual CO2.

The style originated in the Minho province of northern Portugal, with a recorded winemaking history dating back to the ninth century. The modern day borders were delineated first in 1908, and the grapes for white vinho verde are all indigenous varieties, including loureiro, arinto, avesso, azul and trajadura. Many growers there use a unique system of vine trellising, training them to grow up trees and even telephone poles, so they can plant other crops below. Grape harvesting requires a ladder. Here are three Vinho Verde options that make for a great match during the dog days of summer:

Broadbent vinho verde, $8.99

The aromas in this wine are an intriguing mix of sweet citrus, clover and spring greens. You get a bit of a tingle on the tongue from the light-but-persistent fizz. Sweet melon and tangerine flavors play against bright lemon and lime. This is a charming wine that's lean and lively but not austere.

Famega vinho verde, $8.99

This pick offers a surprisingly complex array of aromas, including melon, lime, lavender, grass and brine. There's not much in the way of bubbles, but it's a zesty wine nonetheless, with crisp grapefruit flavors. The finish lingers nicely and is a combo of sweet tropical fruit and racy citrus, with an intriguing hint of coconut.

Praia vinho verde, $11.99

The subtle-but-lively aromas in this wine are marked by soft lime, quince, fresh-cut grass and a touch of mineral. This pick has a light bit of spritz that fades quickly, but the sassy citrus flavors provide a refreshing crispness. The tangy finish is balanced by a fruit-filled ripeness, making for a very approachable style.

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