Almost all European wine styles that depart from the norm represent an adaptation to unusual grape growing conditions, from cool and cloudy Champagne in northern France to sun-drenched Andalucía’s fortified “sherry.” This is also the case for a modestly-priced group of wines from northern Portugal whose formal appellation is Vinho Verde (pronounced VEEN-yo VAIRD).

Vinho Verde means “green wine” in Portuguese to indicate that their grapes are traditionally harvested well before they are fully ripe. This part of Portugal has ideal spring and early summer weather for growing fruit, but just as the summer shifts into fall, the region is beset by rainy weather along the Atlantic coast that can easily ruin the grape crop. The local wine is therefore made from grapes picked weeks earlier than usual to avoid this danger, while they are still extremely tart and not very sweet at all. Sugar is what gets converted to alcohol, so the resulting wines are remarkably low in alcohol content and feature a citrusy tang and leafy herbal flavor profile. Most Portuguese vintners, like this one, also preserve a tickle of natural carbonation and a faint kiss of grapey sweetness to balance the wine’s bracing tartness, which makes the wines as refreshing as a minty mojito on a hot day. Best of all, these perfect summer sippers are quite inexpensive. But since they go down so easy, be warned — you may well find yourself opening two bottles instead of one.

Gazela Vinho Verde Minho, Portugal

$7.99 9% alcohol

PLCB Item #9677

Sale price through June 28 — regularly $9.99

Also available at:

Total Wine & More in Cherry Hill — $7.37

Hops & Grapes in Glassboro — $8.04

Cheers Wine & Spirits in Voorhees — $8.04

Martin’s Liquors in Mount Laurel- $8.04