Before we delve into the food and wine pairings, let us discuss what Port is. Port is a fortified wine that is made with adding grape spirits of approximately 77% to currently fermenting grape juice/must. Because the fermentation period is … Read More
Fortified wines are wines that have had a distilled spirit, typically brandy, added to them during the winemaking process. This addition of spirit increases the alcohol content and preserves the wine.
Here is a list of some of the most well-known fortified wine types of fortified wine.
Port – A rich and sweet wine from Portugal, typically served as a dessert wine. Varieties include Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV). This is the most common fortified wine consumed.
Sherry – A fortified wine from the Andalusia region of Spain, featuring a wide range of styles, including Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontillado, and Pedro Ximénez.
Madeira – Produced on the Portuguese island of Madeira, this wine ranges from dry to sweet and is known for its distinctive aging process.
Marsala – An Italian fortified wine produced in Sicily, used in cooking and served as a dessert wine, available in various styles including Dry, Semi-Dry, and Sweet.
Vermouth – A fortified and aromatized wine used as an aperitif or cocktail ingredient, with varieties like Sweet (Rosso) and Dry (Bianco/Blanc).
Vin Santo – An Italian dessert wine, often made from dried grapes, with a sweet and nutty character.
Commandaria – A Cypriot fortified wine that is one of the oldest named wines still in production, known for its sweet and complex flavors.
Banyuls – A French fortified wine produced in the Roussillon region, often enjoyed as a dessert wine with chocolate or cheese.
Málaga – A Spanish fortified wine produced in the Málaga region, known for its sweet and fruity qualities.
Rutherglen Muscat – An Australian fortified wine produced in the Rutherglen region, renowned for its intense sweetness and nutty flavors.
Pineau des Charentes – A fortified wine from the Cognac region of France, often enjoyed as an aperitif.
Vins doux naturels – A category of fortified wines in France, including Banyuls, Rivesaltes, and Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.
These fortified wine types offer a wide range of flavors and styles, from dry and nutty to sweet and luscious, making them versatile for various occasions and culinary pairings.
Fortified Wine Flavors and Characteristics
The flavor profile of fortified wines can range from dry and nutty (e.g., Fino Sherry) to sweet and luscious (e.g., Pedro Ximénez).
The aging process and the grape varieties used contribute to the complexity and uniqueness of each type of fortified wine.
Some fortified wines, like Port, can be vintage-dated, while others, like Sherry, use a solera aging system.
Pairing Fortified Wine With Food
Fortified wines are often enjoyed as aperitifs, desserts, or as part of food pairings. For example, Port pairs well with blue cheese, and Sherry is a fantastic companion for tapas.
Aging Fortified Wine
Fortified wines can age exceptionally well due to their higher alcohol content and the oxidation that occurs during the aging process. Vintage Ports, Madeira, and Sherry are known for their longevity. Depending on the style, fortified wine can last from a few years to a century or more.