If making a lamp out of a Mateus Rosé bottle is your only flirtation with Portuguese wines, it's time to move on.

The quiet performer of Europe, Portugal now boasts red wines that can proudly take their place alongside the finest in the world. What is holding the country back is image - can you name a famous Portuguese author, film or monument?

In a world of identical wines, Portugal offers grape varieties and flavors that you simply won't find elsewhere. The reds in particular deserve attention, and they're great value.

Portugal's top region is the Douro, where the same grapes used for port are crafted into herb-and-tobacco-scented and often very serious reds, often with the chunky Touriga Nacional grape at their core. Almost as impressive are Däo, another Touriga Nacional outpost, and Bairrada, where the fragrant but tannic Baga grape is used for chewy, fruit-packed, suckling-pig-friendly reds.

Farther south, the Ribatejo and especially the Alentejo have more of an anything-goes air, with local grapes rubbing shoulders with international varieties. Some wines are simple, while others are far more ambitious and long-lived. Whites lag behind the reds, but Vinho Verde from the north can be excellent, particularly with seafood, while Encruzado in Däo and Arinto in Bucelas can also be very tasty.

Fact

As well as making significant amounts of wine, Portugal has around 30 percent of the word's cork forests.

Q:

What are Dog Strangler, Fly Droppings and Ewe's Tail?

A:

Portuguese grape varieties.