It's high time Portuguese wines were given the same respect we grant French, Spanish and Italian ones.
As I stagger towards the end of the autumn tasting season (I don't expect you to feel sympathetic but 150-plus supermarket wines are not a bundle of laughs), one country stands out for offering characterful wines at a fair price: Portugal.
It's partly because they have the weird and wonderful grape varieties I touched on the other week, but also they mercifully don't have a long-established fine wine culture, José Mourinho's favourite Barca Velha aside.
The exuberant, brambly Marco de Pegões Terras do Sado Tinto 2010 (13.5% abv), for example, is an absolutely cracking deal from Majestic at £6.49 if you buy two or more bottles. I love the label and the screwcap (very un-PC in Portugal), too. It would go well with gutsy gastropub dishes, spicy stews or even, I suspect, rogan josh – Portuguese reds can usefully take a bit of spice.
Waitrose has the more expensive F'OZ (£9.99; 14% abv), from Alentejo, coming into 121 branches midweek, a supple, sexy blend of aragonez, trincadeira and castelão that tastes a good fiver more (but not, as the name might suggest, of Australian wine).
Independents also tend to do Portugal well. Tanners has a handsomely labelled, juicy Douro Red (£7.90; 13% abv) under its own label – that would make excellent cold-weather drinking. They reckon it's a natural for chicken peri peri, but I'd fancy cracking it open with some braised ox cheek.
The Real Wine Company has a notably good selection, including Quinta de Santana's Sant'ana Tinto 2011(£7.99; 14% abv), an attractive blend of touriga nacional and aragonez. It reminds me of an Italian red, but you'd be lucky to find one as good for the price. One for hearty pasta bakes or sausages and polenta. I also like the same outfit's Boas Dao Branco 2011 (£7.99; £7.95 at the Halifax Wine Company; 13% abv), a dry, full-bodied white made from encruzado and cercial that would go really well with pokey Iberian fish dishes with pimentón and garlic and even with pork or veal.
And now that Spanish albariño has become so pricey, look over the border to the Vinho Verde region, where you frequently find the same variety, alvarinho, a couple of quid cheaper. Take advantage of the last two days of Marks & Spencer's current "25% off six bottles" offer to snap up some delicious crisp, citrussy Tercius Alvarinho 2011 at £7.49 instead of £9.99 – it's the ideal seafood white.
Portugal is definitely one to watch in 2013.