Portugal just *starts* with "Port"
Mention "Portugal" and "drink" in the same sentence, and thoughts often turn to Port. While I'm a big (though admittedly, recent) fan of tawnies, rubies, LBV and vintage port, I've been recently discovering their "other" wines. Portugal is a virtual treasure trove of inexpensive, decent (mostly red, except for the extremely refreshing and crisp Vinho Verde) table wines. Many are from the Douro, Alentejo or Dao regions, made with many of the same grapes as Port--Touriga National, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, etc. But these wines are not fortified like Port, but made completely dry.
The other evening, we opened a $6.99 bottle of 2004 Vila Regia from the Douro region. This is a red blend of Bastardo, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barocca and Tinta Roriz. It had great red fruit, as well as approachable tannins and a hint of coconut and vanilla from oak treatment. It was a lot better than many other $7 bottles of reds I have tried, and was just very enjoyable to drink. This particular bottle was pretty versatile, and I could see it pairing with chicken, steak, pizza, pasta, you name it.
I'm going to start seeking out other budget-friendly bottles from Portugal--most are $10 or under, and worth exploring.