The best tips to pair Algarve food and wines

Food and wine are two sides of the same coin. Done right, wine pairings can make any meal much more enjoyable!

Of course, we all like different things, and food and wine pairings are not hard science. There’s lots of room for experimentation, and creativity is key! Still, one of the most successful wine and food pairing strategies is going local — pair the wine and food from a specific place always results in magic.

Here is how to pair classic Portuguese food with the country’s wine, specifically from the sunny Algarve region – Portugal’s most popular destination.


Where is Algarve?

Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal. It overlooks the Gulf of Cadiz to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Clear, sunny skies and a given, under which one can enjoy both Algarve’s beaches and its verdant vineyards inland.

Faro is Algarve’s capital city, but many towns dot the landscape, each with its own customs and culinary traditions. Algarve has a rich food history, fruit and vegetables grow beautifully in the warm region, and protein comes from land and sea – the recipe for a delicious meal after another. These are five of our favourite foods in the Algarve and how to pair them with wine.



1. Clams and Shellfish

Clams are on every menu in Algarve. The region is known for its fresh seafood, and the bivalve molluscs are a delicacy. Conquilhas à Algarvia are perhaps the most common way of eating Algarve’s clams. The shelled goodies are sautéed with garlic and onion and seasoned with fresh parsley. What a bliss!

Pair clams and other light-bodied seafood specialities with crisp, white wines, especially if young and dry. The wine cleanses your palate after every bite while it quenches your thirst!

Wine to try: Quinta dos Vales Selecta Branco 2019 — citrusy, fresh and mineral.


2. Sardines

Sardines, particularly from the coastal town of Portimão in western Algarve, are a big deal in the area. The entire region has a long history with oily fish and people her produces, arguably, the best in Europe.

Of course, oily fish is not only a sea-scented delight but a flavourful one as well. That means you need the right wine to balance the deliciously fishy taste of sardines. By the way, visit Algarve during the Sardine Festival for a life-changing experience.

Wine to try: Quinta dos Vales Grace Viognier Vinho Branco 2019 – floral, peachy, elegant.



3. Cataplana

Cataplana is Algarve’s signature dish. The name comes from the shallow pan used to make various foods that take the same name. Some of the most popular dishes in the category include seafood cataplana, fish cataplana and a breathtaking pork and clam stew.

Expect intense flavours and the enticing personality of fresh ingredients cooked with olive oil on a copper pan. Cataplanas might vary, and every town in Algarve has its own recipe. Still, these hearty stews call for a medium-bodied red wine to balance the food’s richness.

Wine to try: Quinta dos Vales Duo Tinto 2017 — fruit-forward, generous, persistent.


4. Piri-Piri Chicken

Also known as frango asado or roasted chicken, yard birds are a typical everyday meal in Algarve, and they do them very well. This is no ordinary roasted chicken; expect greatness, particularly in and around the town of Guia.

Fork-tender, juicy meat falls off the bone, while a crackly, golden skin adds layers of flavour and complexity to the apparently straightforward meal. As for wine pairings for piri-piri chicken, a robust white will work nicely, but also a bold red with a tannic structure to cut through the rendered fat.

Wine to try: Quinta dos Vales Grace Vineyard 2014 — ripe black fruit, persistent tannins and smoky scents.


5. Queijo de figo

Last but not least, if you have a sweet tooth, Algarve’s desserts are on another level. Perhaps the most popular sweet treat in the region is the doces finos, one-biters shaped like fruit or tiny veggies but made with marzipan.

Still, you’ll find the same pleasure in a bolder dessert — queijo de figo or fig cheese. This is no cheese, but a thick dessert made with almonds, figs, sugar and brown spices. To match the flavour intensity in this dish, you need an equally sweet wine.

Wine to try: Quinta dos Vales Touriga Nacional Licoroso — dried fruit and figs and a lengthy, sweet aftertaste.


What is Your Favourite Portuguese Food?

Portugal‘s wine and food traditions are, without a doubt, deep-rooted and unique, especially down the southern coast. Algarve is a prime destination for wine lovers and foodies, which is why Quinta dos Vales offers exclusive experiences for them. From wine tours and tastings to crafty workshops — you can even make your own wine (and own a vineyard!).

If it’s food you’re looking for, the estate has plenty to offer. Besides, Quinta dos Vales neighbours several Michelin-starred restaurants that will surely satisfy even the most demanding palate.

Visit Algarve and enjoy its wine and food. Find out why this is amongst the most popular holiday destinations in Europe!



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