9 Portuguese snacks and wine pairings that will surprise you
We were inspired by Wine Folly’s article Wine and Junk Food Pairings That Actually Work to explore the addictive world of Portuguese snacks and find local wines to wash it all down in style. If we often talk about wine selections for typical dishes, complex contemporary recipes or even desserts, why can’t the same apply to greasy or sugary snacks?
The basic rules for wine and food pairings apply even if the food comes out of a bag or was purchased in a late night food truck parked outside a club:
🎯 You can either find a balance between the food and wine when it comes to flavor and structure, following the mirroring principle that supports that mild food goes with mild wine, while richer bites go best with richer wines OR go for a balancing contrast where the wine profile ends up complementing the food and vice-versa;
🎯 The aroma of the wine should go along the same lines of the aroma of what you’re eating;
🎯 If you’re enjoying something sweet, the wine should also be on the sweeter side, even a tad sweeter than the dessert itself, so that the wine flavors aren’t overpowered by the sugary notes of the food;
🎯 And our favorite rule of them all: learn and experiment, and ultimately eat and drink what tastes best to you!
If you are very particular about wines, you may think we’re over simplifying. But let’s face it, do you really want to complicate things when the subject at hand is snacks and junk food? Things that hit the spot if what we’re after here today!
1. Lupin beans and white vinho verde
Tremoços and cerveja, that is lupin beans and beer, are one of the most successful marriages in the history of Portuguese snacking.
So why fix something that isn’t broken? Because today we’re all about the wine! If cold beer goes well with these salty legumes preserved in brine it is because it soothes the palate during this mighty salty adventure.
More than a gastronomic finding, this is an addictive trick bars in Portugal use to keep you buying more rounds of beer – that’s why tremoços are usually served for free with your drink order! Instead of beer, choose to snack on lupin beans with Portuguese white from vinhos verdes region. The acidity of this crisp wine will contrast with the saltiness of each bite, translating into a more refreshing experience.
2. Pão de Deus and Moscatel
God’s bread, as this sweet Portuguese bun literally translates as, is indeed divine. A soft brioche bun topped with a thick layer of shredded coconut glued to the dough with egg jam.
We usually have it for breakfast or afternoon snack, either plain or stuffed with butter, cheese and ham. Most times, pão de Deus is eaten along with milky coffee. If you’d like to turn your pastry time into a more lavish experience, consider pairing it with Moscatel.
Sweet muscat wine in Portugal is produced either in the Setúbal or Douro regions. This aromatic Portuguese fortified wine goes well with the tempting brioche, as its fruity and aromatic notes complement the flavor of the coconut and can indeed take you to heaven.
3. Ruffles Presunto and red wine from Alentejo
Cured ham. Sausages. Pork and clams Alentejo style. Grilled Iberian black pork. The list of pork dishes associated with the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo goes on and on. Ruffles Presunto, that is, cured ham flavored potato chips with ridges, may not be an Alentejo specialty but they certainly go great with a young reserva red wine from this region.
Pick a red that has briefly matured in an oak barrel, to achieve a light to medium body that will add an extra dimension to this crunchy experience.
4. Farturas and vinho de Carcavelos
Here in Portugal, nothing says street party like fried dough. In Lisbon, for example, you know the St. Anthony summer festivities are approaching when you start seeing churros and farturas food trucks parked in popular areas. If churros are well known in many parts of the world thanks to Latin people, farturas are the bigger, fatter, chunkier cousin you must try when you come to Portugal. These are either fried and served with a sprinkle of sugar, or can also be stuffed with jams and chocolate.
As farturas are something you normally eat out and on the go, drinks aren’t usually involved. But if you can gorge on these deep-fried sugary treats along with a glass of Carcavelos wine, why wouldn’t you?
This Portuguese fortified wine region that is so close to Lisbon is often overlooked by those fond of sweet fortified wines. But we can guarantee you won’t regret that in your next trip to Lisbon to grab yourself a cone of freshly fried farturas, open a bottle of vinho de Carcavelos and start changing that!
5. Snails and white wine from the Azores
Just like lupins, caracóis are a popular summer snack in Lisbon and the southern part of Portugal, usually eaten with cold beer. These molluscs, cooked in a tasty sauce made with onions, herbs and olive oil, ask for a white wine with savory notes.
The acidity and salinity of white wines from Portugal’s coastal regions near Lisbon or the Alentejo complement this snack that is surprisingly not that slimy, and so do most white wines from the Azores islands if you’re ready to splurge a little more and treat yourself.
6. Pão com chouriço and red Alfrocheiro wine from Dão
There are few pleasures that can compare to eating bread coming right out of the oven. If that bread is stuffed with paprika infused Portuguese sausage, we’d be taking the experience to the next level.
If we go even one step further and pair this freshly baked treat with a young red wine, then, we can easily pat ourselves in the back and say congratulations, because we have truly mastered the art of enjoying life’s little pleasures.
Chorizo stuffed bread is often eaten in Lisbon to soak up the alcohol of a crazy night out and to avoid the nasty effects of a hangover. But we say keep indulging, and enjoy your pão com chouriço with a Dão red wine made with Alfrocheiro grapes from this region. This is the type of wine that has enough structure to match up to meats like chouriço, yet is also fresh as to make the experience just a little lighter.
7. Torresmos and red wine from Bairrada
High fat foods call for equally rich and intense wines. That’s why we’d recommend munching on fried pork cracklings, aka torresmos, along with a nice glass of red wine.
If you can’t picture elevating the experience of eating fried pork skin, try pairing this snack with a red wine from the Bairrada region, for a more deliciously sinful tasting. Baga is the most representative grape variety from this central Portuguese region and it delivers acidity to tone down the fat of the pork skin, but also enough complexity to go along with the strong salty taste of torresmos.
8. Cheetos Futebolas and white wine from Douro
Pairing wine and cheese is old school! Today, we suggest drinking wine while nibbling on cheesy Cheetos. The most common version of Cheetos you can find in Portugal are Futebolas, airy spheres shaped like soccer balls, made of corn, cheese, sugar, salt, MSG and all the usual suspects of salty snacks that come out of a package.
Enjoy Cheetos Futebolas with a glass of white wine from Douro. Choose a wine that has aged in oak barrels, as this will give the wine the structure that it needs to complement the robust flavor of the cheese.
Furthermore, whites from Douro are grown at enough altitude that guarantees a certain level of acidity that will contrast with the richness of the cheese, making it possible to eat more Cheetos before you get sick of them. ‘Cause we needed an excuse for that, right?
9. Húngaros and ruby Port wine
When we think of a Portuguese café our minds tend to immediately picture custard tarts. But there’s just so much more than pastel de nata in the world of Portuguese pastry shops! Besides individual pastries sold by the unit, Portuguese pastelarias that make their own sweets are also big on selling small cakes and biscuits by the kilo. Húngaros are some of the most popular fancy biscuits within this category. They consist of buttery biscuits partially dipped in chocolate.
Húngaros recheados, our favorite, are two húngaros taken to the next level, as they are stuck together with sweet strawberry jam in between. Cake. Chocolate. Fruit compote. These are all things we’re used to pairing with wine, right?
Skip the coffee this time around and enjoy your húngaros with fortified wine. We recommend Port wine, particularly a vibrant and bright red colored ruby. Ruby port naturally has notes of sweet and tart fruit that will match the strawberry jam in between your húngaros in a delectable and harmonious way.
We hope you enjoy these recommendations and dare to try these and other combinations of Portuguese snacks and wines from Portugal. Dare to be adventurous when it comes to trying new things and always remember what American food and wine critic Roy Andries de Groot once said “the “perfect marriage” of food and wine should allow for infidelity!”
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