If you’ve ever had a taste of Mateus wine -- that sweet, frizzante rosé wine that was popular in the swinging 1970s – then the Mateus Palace should feel like an old familiar friend.

Because the Mateus Palace was – and still is – on the label of every one of the uniquely narrow-necked, flask-shaped bottles.

The palace was built for the Third Morgado of Mateus, António José Botelho Mourão, and is located just outside of the pretty city of Vila Real (which translates to ‘Royal Town’ as it was founded by King Denis of Portugal and was popular among members of the royal family during the Middle Ages). It was designed by famed architect and artist Nicolau Nasoni from 1739-1743. An Italian, he spent most of his adult life in Porto and created many of his most celebrated works there. Porto’s São Pedro dos Clérigos Church and Granite Tower are considered to be among his greatest works – but he also designed numerous other buildings and façades when he was approached to design the palace.

A stunning Baroque masterpiece, the palace is a lavish in its every detail. Elegantly formal flowerbeds are maze-like in appearance, rivalling those of many other palaces throughout Europe. Enjoy the box hedges, various statues, cedar tunnel (roughly 115 feet long) and the pond on the grounds. The roof is decorated with beautiful pinnacles and ornate balustraded stairways grace the exterior of the palace.

Inside is just as stunning – with intricately carved wood ceilings and dark chestnut wooden floors, elegant furniture and rugs from several different time periods, valuable paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, Chinese porcelain, Portuguese china and silverware, ceramics and an impressive library.

Notably a small vineyard and winery is also here – but instead of Mateus wine, they make Port wine on the palace grounds. You can also purchase Port wine – but not Mateus wine – in a gift shop. This is because despite the Palace gracing the label, and thereby seeming synonymous with the rosé, it actually has very little to do with the famous varietal itself.

Once one of the world’s most popular wines, Mateus was invented in 1942 and was all the rage in the 1970s. Queen Elizabeth requested it. Jimi Hendrix was photographed drinking it out of a bottle. Elton John sang about it in his 1973 song “Social Disease.” It even made an appearance in the classic film, Animal House (in the home of Professor Dave Jennings, as played by Donald Sutherland).

Medium light pink, slightly fizzy with good freshness and balance and a nice floral aroma, Mateus offers a slightly watermelon, dried raspberry taste. A blend of about 10 different red grape varieties (all native to the Douro region) go into the wine -- including Baga, Rufete, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Franca grapes.

And while the only connection Mateus wine has with Mateus Palace is the label, it is still quite a treat to visit this exquisite palace. Not to mention a delicious excuse to taste some Mateus wine and bring back fond memories – or create new ones!

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