Touriga Franca

If you like Malbec, Merlot blends or softer styles of Zinfandel.

Also known locally (though not legally) as Touriga Francesa, this is the most widely grown grape in the Douro Valley and is responsible for many of the grapes that go into making dry Douro wines and Port. Growers love Touriga Franca as it is easy to cultivate, hardy and dependable for good yields. Touriga Franca shows delicate yet intense aromas with notes of black berry fruit and flowers, combined with ample body and deep pigment. It is one of the principal varieties used in Port blends, along with other well-regarded Douro varieties such as Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. One finds more and more of it in the Alentejo, the Tejo, the Beiras, and the areas around Lisbon. Despite its strength as a blending grape, it can stand alone as a varietal.

Food Pairing with Touriga Franca:

There is not a lot of pure Touriga Franca wines in Portugal. Richer red meat dishes, such as grilled or roast lamb, steaks (especially those more rustic cults like hangar or flank) are very good with this grape. Add a little piquant piri-piri (often found in Portugal due to its ties to Africa) or the fashionable, and tasty, chimichurri sauce - the beef-friendly salsa of olive oil, oregano, shallots, and a hint of garlic, and you have a magic pairing. Touriga Franca does well with gamey flavors too - squab and venison - and dishes with mushrooms like morels, porcini, or Chinese black. Sausages and vegetable brochettes are other good pairing options.

Asian duet: Stir fried Malaysian rice noodles with dark soy, pork, and shrimp

European duet: Greek Moussaka with spiced lamb, b├ęchamel, and eggplant

American duet: Grilled southwestern flank steak rubbed with ancho chili paste