Watch out, Spain. Portugal is gunning for your title as Europe’s most innovative red-wine producers.

The country has come a long way since joining the EU in 1986. Nowadays, there are 14 approved wine regions and a progressive winemaking program in Villa Real where 60% of students are female. Bloomberg News wine critic John Mariani tried the Douro River Valley selections and found that most of the wines hit the preferred balance of great taste and a good price.

Best of all, “very few topped 14 percent in alcohol, with most at a reasonable 13.5 or below, indicating that, at least so far, Portuguese winemakers have resisted going for that bold but imbalanced style that plagues international wine markets and destroys any subtleties of individual terroir.”

For a good introduction go Portuguese wine, he suggests the 2009 Quinta de Roriz Prazo de Roriz ($16), which pairs well with heartier dishes like stews and roasted nuts.

[via Bloomberg News]