Almost all of us enjoy the taste of quality wine, some red, some white and others – rose. If the wine is main accompaniment of your dinner, you probable have some basic knowledge about this fruity drink. But have you heard of fortified wines? If not, read this article, as we are ready to inform you about how fortified wines are made and what are some of the best you can find available on the market.
These wines are strengthen by extra alcohol in the form of spirits or brandy in order to bring them up to an alcohol content of 18%-20%. Madeira, Port, Sherry are all fortified wines. The time when the alcohol is added to the wine is important, because of it depends on whether the wine is dry or sweet. If the alcohol is added after the process of fermentation, the final product is dry wine, while adding extra alcohol during the fermentation means producing sweet wine. In addition, let’s take a look at these three very popular fortified wines.
Port wine comes from Portugal. The grapes for producing Port wines are grown far inland from the sea in the vineyards placed above the Douro River. Many types of black grapes are planted, including Touriga Nacional, which is considered as the most popular and important variety. All Port starts out as sweet wine, because their process of fermentation is stopped at the middle. The wine is placed into barrels with brandy, which kills the yeast and stops it from fermenting any more grape sugar, but it also reinforcing the wine to 20% alcohol. This wine can improve and live in the bottle for decades. The tannin, sugar and high alcohol contend of the Port are what preserve it. That is why most Port wines are bottled in opaque black bottles to keep away the light from the wine.
Sherry is another fortified wine originally made in Spain. All Sherry wines start out as a dry whites and therefore are fermented to dryness. To produce sweeter style, a sweeter white wine is added. To produce Sherry, there are two major grape varieties used – Pedro Ximenez and Palomino. They are kept in different soleras until the final mixing. While still in the barrels, the wine is classified according to whether natural flower yeast is growing on the barrel surface. The barrel is filled 7/8 so there will be enough air space for natural flower to grow. The barrels that develop flower yest produce the finest and dries types of Sherry wines. This wine is perfect for cooking sauces, soups, beans and fish because it makes them easier to digest.
Maderia is fortified wine made on the island of Maderia. This wine gain popularity since the time when 13 American colonies sent the wine in sailing ships, which took up to two years to reach our shores. During that time the dry, thin, acidic white Madeira wine was heated in its barrels and when it reached its destination, it was a sweet, caramel-coloured and concentrated wine. Since then, Madeira wine is the only wine in the world that is oxidized on purpose to achieve a perfection of bunt sugar richness and deep brown colour. To produce sweet Madeira, the fermentation is stopped in the middle in order to leave some of the natural sugar of the grape in the wine. The wine is baked in hot rooms for few months and then is fortified to 20% alcohol.