With temperatures already reaching the 40s in the Douro Valley, it is now the time of year when the grapes change colour from a light pea green to the various tones of dark red that signify that veraison is well and truly underway.
Veraison, a French loanword, describes the phase in which the grapes ripen and become sweet. At the same time the fruit also becomes softer and begins to plump due to the concentration and accumulation of sugars under their thick skins.
The most common phrase heard in Portuguese vineyards at this time of year must be “o pintor chegou”, which means “the painter has arrived.” The fruit starts to change colour relatively quickly, although not uniformly, and it is normal to find a palate of different colours present on just one single bunch of grapes.
This year veraison began about 10 days early due to the dry, warm weather since the spring, and the grapes are already unusually sweet.
This year veraison was about 10 days early due to the dry, warm weather since the spring, and the grapes are already unusually sweet.