I have been suffering from a bad cold for the last week. As such, I have not felt much like enjoying any sort of wine.
But then a friend reminded me today that port can be an excellent way to help clear up cold symptoms — or at least not care about them anymore.
Ports, of course, are generally considered red dessert wines. They are made from a red wine and fortified with distilled liquor, generally brandy. And, in my opinion, brandy isn’t far off from what ends up in many over-the-counter liquid cold medicines. After all, in Oregon, a checker has to verify your age when you buy a bottle of cold medicine, just like when you buy alcohol.
In Oregon, the wines are generally either termed “port,” “dessert wine” or even “fortified wine.” Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only wines that originate from Portugal can be called ports. Essentially, all of these names mean the same thing — the wines tend to be a bit sweeter and are best at the end of a meal or a night.
There are many types of dessert wines out there to choose from. Across Oregon alone, you can find dessert wines made from a variety of grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon (example: NV Klipsun Cabernet “Port” from R. Stuart & Co.), Tempranillo (example: 2007 Folin Cellars Tempranillo Dessert Wine) and Pinot Noir (example: Willamette Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir Style Port).
Of course, Oregon is also home to several places that make dessert wines from other fruit. Hood River Vineyards is well known for its range of dessert wines, sherries and ports that include black cherry, Rainier cherry, marionberry, raspberry and pear. H.V. Cellars, which frequents Oregon’s wine tasting events, is well known for its traditional wines, but also for its dessert wines made from cranberry, pomegranate and wild blackberry. These types of dessert wines are generally great as an “adult” topping for ice cream or pancakes.
As always, it’s important to always try before you buy because not only will the wines taste different between different wineries, but they can also taste different from year to year. the 2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Port, for example, is an entirely different experience than the 2009. One is light and bright while the other is heavier and closer to what you would expect from a traditional port.
One of the advantages of dessert wines is that — unlike most wine — is that it can be opened and stored for several months without going bad. That way, you can have your own adult cold remedy on hand when you need it.