Have you ever heard of white port wine? Turns out, it’s a thing and it’s glorious and now I want to import it into the U.S. because no one should be without it.

Like many Americans, I had heard of ruby port and was vaguely aware of tawny port, but that was it. In fact, my Navy officer father taught me that “port wine is red wine.” It’s a little mnemonic to help you remember that a boat has a red running light on the port side and a green running light on the starboard side. When boating at night or in bad weather, you can always tell which direction another boat is heading by looking at its running lights, provided you remember which color goes with which side of the boat. That little bit of Navy lingo has stuck with me for decades, and no doubt contributed to my belief that all port wine is, indeed, red wine.

Of course, until about ten years ago, it didn’t matter what color port was, because I assumed it sucked and never drank it. It seemed kind of cough syrupy and geezerly. But then Steve got my dad a bottle of port for his 75th birthday, and we all tried it. I was surprised by how much I liked it, and have ordered it from time to time ever since.

Steve and I first tried white port last May during our visit to a winery in Montenegro with our friend, Tom. It was really delicious, we bought a couple of bottles and tried to get more later but the winery wasn’t able to ship it out of Montenegro. So, I’ve been biding my time, waiting to get to Porto, Portugal, to get my mitts on some white port.

Porto sits at the mouth of the Douro River, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Douro originates in Spain, and essentially flows due West through northern Portugal. The Douro River Valley in Portugal is where port wine is produced, and per European Union regulations, only wine from Portugal can be labeled as “port.” The Douro Valley is a demarcated region, and “Douro” was first recognized as an appellation in 1756. And yes, it’s called “port” because pretty much all the legit port wine comes to market through Porto.

In many cases, the port wine is transported from the vineyards, which are upriver in the valley, to the little town of Vila Nova de Gaia, which sits just opposite Porto on the south side of the Douro. Back in the day, the wine was carried downriver to Gaia in barrels on flat-bottomed boats called rabelos. Today, the rabelos are charming little tourist boats. In Gaia, the port is cellared, aged and bottled in “lodges,” many of which are open to the public for tours and tastings. We have visited several of them, and have a couple more on the list. Some of the barrels at the lodges are huge. In fact, at one producer, they told us that you could park a Mini Cooper inside their largest barrels, and they had lots of them. I can’t even wrap my mind around how many bottles of wine are in those barrels.

So, I decided it would be fun to explore the Douro River Valley, and planned an overnight trip. We wanted something to look forward to, because last week was a bit of a drag. Steve had to get his kidney stone-related catheter removed and I had to address some dermatological issues that, among other unpleasantness, required a physician to inject anesthesia directly into my chest and face. It was quite distressing, and confirmed for me that face needles are scary AF, and, consequently, I will never get Botox. Anyhoo, once the medical mishmash was over, we headed to the Douro Valley. We just got back, and it was one of our most favorite side trips.

You can travel along the river by train from Porto almost all the way to Spain. The tracks run right alongside the river for most of the journey, and the scenery is stunningly beautiful. It’s basically rows of terraced vineyards carved out of the very steep hills and sloping up from the river as far as the eye can see. You can also take a boat cruise from Porto to a couple of the larger villages in the Valley, although it’s off season, so many of them are not running right now.

We took the train to the end of the line, which is in a tiny town called Pocinho. Curiously, the closer we got to Spain, the fewer people we met who spoke English; however, many spoke French, thank goodness. From Pocinho, we took a cab to the middle of nowhere, where we stayed at a wine hotel and spa that was outstanding. Picture this: It’s set in a vineyard, features Texas Hill Country-style modern architecture and has eight guest rooms, all of which look out over the vineyard, gardens, an orange grove and the river. The winemaker does a 90-minute wine and port tasting, and they have a limited yet bona fide foodie menu for dinner, which is available only to guests of the hotel, and includes wine and port pairings with generous, seemingly bottomless, pours. They have several walking trails around the property, a swimming pool, a spa and incredible views. The next day, we walked one of the trails, lounged at the hotel until check-out time, bought some tawny port and some white port(!), then took the train from Pocinho to Pinhão, which is another wine village on the Douro, between Pocinho and Porto. I had booked a private river cruise from Pinhão, so there we got onto a gorgeous house boat, with a skipper, and she took us for a spin. It was decadent. They had bean bag chairs up on the front deck, so we lounged up there and sipped port wine as we cruised. Truly, it was a little slice of heaven. Then we got back on the train and returned to Porto.

I’ve decided my new dream job would be skippering the private boat tours on the Douro River and exporting white port wine to the U.S. I think Steve is into it, especially if he could take some guitar lessons, too.