I remember the days when people would frown on anything that wasn't a Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rheingau or Barolo. But then wines from other countries and regions started creeping in.

First the Californians became a threat to the establishment. They proved that a wine does not have to be French in order to impress with its quality. The Australian horde then came with their oaky whites and magnificent reds. They showed that proper wine-making techniques could produce fine wines in many areas. Of course Canada made liars out of all the dissenting masses that scoffed at the idea that fine wines could be made up "north".

The Rhone of southern France was discovered with its Hermitage, Cote Rotie and Chateauneuf du Pape.

Now it's a virtual onslaught with a host of wines ranging from Austria, Canada and Brazil to Portugal, South Africa and New Zealand. With new technologies and grape clones, many countries are now making phenomenal wine. And so it goes. Countries all over the globe now are making wines. Even Hong Kong and Las Vegas have wineries.

In France the roses of Provence such as Tavel and Bandol have long been known for their quality. Lately the wines of Languedoc in the Midi, Roussillon near the Pyrenees and Cotes du Ventoux in the Rhone have come into prominence.

Greece has upgraded its wine standards and is making some fine wines, while Portugal is showing that it has more to offer than just its Port.

Spain has long been known for its wines and even though its prices have been slowly creeping up in recent years, its wines are still a great buy per quality/price ratio.

In Italy, there are many great quality wines that are being produced and the funny thing is that many of these wines are yet to be discovered by the general public. Umbria is a good example with fine Sagrantino wines from Montefalco. Sardinia and Sicily offer not only interesting taste but reasonable prices. The Island of Malta has six wineries and judging from the quality (Madonna and Jack Nicholson are a couple of its fans), the wines could hold their own among many "heavyweights."

The wines of the countries mentioned are all food-friendly and can match their local dishes well but are also great with good old Canadian fare.

This week, purchase a wine that you have not tried from a country/region that you are not familiar with. Experiment and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Chuck Byers is a wine writer and consultant with over 35 years of experience in the wine industry.