Setubal Peninsula Wine Region Guide

Discover the exquisite wines of Setubal's enchanting coastline with our exclusive insider's guide to the region's best flavors


Last updated: November 27, 2023


They say that size is no guarantee of quality. In which case, let us introduce you to Portugal’s Setúbal Peninsula. It is a small demarcated region south of the River Tagus – a place of endless fascination and timeless beauty. Historically, Setúbal was renowned for producing the iconic “Moscatel de Setúbal” (Muscat of Alexandria), an unbelievably delicious orange elixir of a wine. There is also a rarer, purple version: Moscatel Roxo. This lightly fortified, aromatic sweet tipple was the preferred drink of the aristocracy for many centuries. Aged versions have few rivals in the world of after-dinner drinks; young blends are sublime when paired with Portugal’s exquisite custard tarts.

Sadly, the demand for sweet – and fortified – beverages has plummeted over the past few decades. In an age of moderation and wellness, ‘sticky’ sweet Moscatel is not an easy sell. Indeed, you’d have more luck promoting a Bernard Matthews convention to a gang of turkeys. As a result, the emphasis has shifted to the exceptional dry styles made in the peninsula, not least the wines of Palmela. They are much more important today than sweet concoctions of Setúbal; this premier DOC (appellation) is increasingly being exploited by growers, used to make structured red and white wines of intoxicating perfume and finesse. They deserve a closer look.


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James lawrence

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