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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.