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Portugal

If pint-size Portugal did nothing more than supply the world with one of its most-cherished sweet wines, Port, who could complain? But throw in high-quality, high-value dry reds, as well as a famously zippy white, and all of a sudden we're talking small country, magnum style.

Port: Make no mistake; Port still is the main attraction. If you're looking for the real deal—a genuine, succulently sweet and refined Portuguese Port, make sure it's been labeled as a product of Portugal to distinguish it from similar products made elsewhere.

High-priced vintage Port, made only in selected years, gets top billing, and most deservedly. But keep in mind that the vintage stuff requires many years of aging to reach maturity. And yes, it is expensive.

Don't rule out less pricey alternatives such as Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Tawny Ports. When spot-on, they'll give you a generous taste of what the big boys have to offer. The best Tawny Ports display an age on the label, indicating the average age of the wine that's gone into the blend—often, 10- and 20-year-olds are often the best bargains.

Eye-opening dry reds: Looking for modestly priced, dry red wines with loads of character? There's no need to stray from the very same region in which Port grapes are grown, the Douro. Slightly farther south, the Dao region also boasts ravishing reds.

A unique white: Refreshing and light, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde can be just the ticket on a hot summer's day—and the price of admission's right, too.

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