Fortified wine is an exceptional type of wine that undergoes an invigorating process when alcohol, typically brandy, is added during its fermentation process. Originating primarily from countries in Europe, this fortified process increases the wine's alcohol content and contributes rich, distinctive flavours, oftentimes deviating from the traditional, subtle sweetness of regular wine.
Ranging between 15% and 20% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), fortified wines are robust and full-bodied in character. Many forms of fortified wines are recognised across the world, including Port, Sherry, Marsala, and Madeira amongst others. Each variety carries an inherent representation of the regional culture and climate from where it hails.
Port, for instance, is a hearty, sweet red wine from Portugal. Aged in wooden barrels, it proffers a plummy, richly layered flavour. Sherry, on the other hand, from Spain, yields a uniquely dry yet complex flavour profile with light oak undertones. Marsala, a wine from Sicily, offers an enticing balance between sweet and dry, oozing with deep caramel notes. Lastly, Madeira, named after a Portuguese island, stands out with its high acidity and nutty taste.
Besides being enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif, fortified wines have long been used in cooking due to their ability to enhance the flavour of various dishes, from savoury entrees to desserts.
Fortified wine has risen to prominence due to its distinct character and versatility. As one uncorks a bottle of fortified wine, they do more than pour a drink, they release a celebration of culture, tradition, and the art of winemaking. Fortified wines offer an insight into unique wine production methods and bear testament to the evolving palette of the wine-drinking community in the ever-diversifying world of wine connoisseurship.
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