Portugal is most
known for its dessert wines which take their name from the name of
the country. Port (Porto). Portugal grows a wide selection of grape
varieties (including Touriga
Nacional and Touriga
Francesa, many of which are not found elsewhere. Portugal
also produces some very fine table wines but the financial success
that comes from having such a dominant position in the dessert wine
category makes it unlikely that any other wine type will topple Port
from its spot as the most prestigious wine produced here.
Until recently, Portugal was the 'third world' country of Europe.
There was a lack of funds to develop roads and bridges, much less
purchase cutting edge technology for its wine industry. Additionally,
the steep vineyards of the Douro River valley with their narrow terraces
made mechanization nearly impossible in the best growing regions.
Those days have changes somewhat an influx of money from the European
Union has spurred development of the country's infrastructure and
the rise in Port prices over the last decade has prompted wine producers
to upgrade and modernize their vineyards and winery facilities.
Other than Port, the most notable export successes for Portuguese
wines have been Vinho Verde (a high acid white wine that goes well
with seafood) and the Portuguese Rosés (Mateus & Lancers) that were
so popular in the U.S.A. in the early 1970's.