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The sounds of those days live on, too, through the rhythms of candombe music.This city may lay claim to being the true home of tango, but it's these beats brought from Africa to the shores of the River Plate that uncover Montevideo's very soul. Centro hosts great shopping streets and one of South America's funkiest street markets, while Calle Soriano is the hip new place to appreciate the work of local artists.

First uncork a bottle pour it into a glass and allow it to sit for a half-hour. Next, close your eyes, inhale deeply into the wine glass.

Finally they say, sip the Tannat, holding the contents in your mouth a few second before swallowing, in order to fully savor the full bouquet of Uruguay's most treasured export.

The action, so far, centres on the restoration of the Hotel Cervantes, once frequented by Jorge Luis Borges, and the Sala Verdi, a belle époque theatre.

But watch out for new art spaces, scheduled to open soon.

Small scale viticulture allows for quality control and ensures the "traceability" of each bottle - something that Uruguay's industry overseers INAVI, the national institute of wine culture, insists upon.

According to INAVI Uruguay exported 1.2 litres of wine in 2004, with a value of .3 million (£2.2 million).

Like all South American cities, Montevideo loves to party.

In fact, the city lays claim to the longest carnival in the world – Carnaval runs throughout February and March.

But even the most avid oenophiles agree that Uruguay's wine industry will rise and fall on the quality of each individual bottle of ruby red Tannat.

And they say downing a glass is as much of an art form as producing one.

Uruguay, the fourth most important wine-producing country in South America, grows a variety of grapes, but none more celebrated than Tannat, which is behind this tiny country's rise to prominence in the wine world.

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