Portuguese wine is the result of traditions introduced to the region by ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Phoenicians and Carthaginians, but mainly the Romans. Portugal started to export its wines to Rome during the Roman Empire. Modern exports developed with English trading after the Methuen Treaty in 1703. From this commerce a wide variety of wines started to be made in Portugal and in 1758, one of the first official wine-producing regions of the world, the Região Demarcada do Douro was created under the auspices of the Marquis of Pombal, in the Douro Valley. Portugal has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO as World Heritage sites: the Douro Valley Wine Region (Douro Vinhateiro) and Pico Island Wine Region (Ilha do Pico Vinhateira).
Portugal possesses a wide range of native varietals, producing an abundant variety of different wines. This range of grape varietals contributes as significantly as the soil and climate to wine differentiation, producing distinctive wines from the Northern regions to the Madeira Islands, and from the Algarve to the Azores. In Portugal only some grape varieties or ‘castas’ are authorised or endorsed in the Demarcated regions.
The major Portuguese wine varieties and regions are:
Over a hundred different grape varieties are sanctioned for the production of port, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used.
Douro table wines originate from the same region as port wines. The style of these (mostly red) wines range from a light, Bordeaux style to rich Burgundian style wines aged in new oak.