Fortified winesare a type of wine that has been strengthened with the addition of a distilled spirit, usually brandy. The addition of spirits increases the alcohol content and gives the wine a unique flavor profile. Fortified wines have a long history, and they are still popular today. In this blog, we will explore fortified wines in more detail, including their history, production, and examples of different types of fortified wines.
History of Fortified WinesFortified wines have been around for centuries, with the first recorded instance of fortified wine dating back to the 16th century. During this time, the British were importing wine from Portugal, which was fortified with brandy to help preserve it during the long voyage across the sea. This led to the creation of a new type of wine called Port, which quickly became popular in Britain and beyond. Over the years, other types of fortified wines were developed, including Sherry, Madeira, and Vermouth. Each of these wines has its own unique history and production methods, but they all share the common trait of being strengthened with a distilled spirit.
Production of Fortified WinesThe production of fortified wines begins with the creation of a base wine. This wine is typically made from grapes that are grown specifically for winemaking. Once the base wine has been made, it is then fortified with a distilled spirit, usually brandy. The addition of the spirit increases the alcohol content of the wine, which helps to preserve it and gives it a unique flavor profile. After the wine has been fortified, it is then aged in barrels for a period of time, which can range from a few months to several years. During this time, the wine takes on the flavors and aromas of the barrel, which adds to its complexity and depth. Once the wine has been aged to the desired level, it is then bottled and sold.
Types of Fortified WinesThere are several types of fortified wines, each with its own unique flavor profile and production methods. Here are some examples:
- Port – Port is a sweet, red wine that is produced in the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is fortified with brandy during fermentation, which stops the yeast from converting all of the sugar to alcohol, leaving a sweet wine. Port is typically aged for several years in oak barrels, which gives it a rich, complex flavor.
- Sherry – Sherry is a fortified wine that is produced in the Jerez region of Spain. It is made from the Palomino grape and is aged in a solera system, which is a series of barrels that are stacked on top of each other. Sherry can be dry or sweet, and it has a unique flavor profile that is nutty and savory.
- Madeira – Madeira is a fortified wine that is produced on the island of Madeira, which is off the coast of Portugal. Madeira is made from several different grape varieties and is aged in barrels for several years. Madeira has a unique flavor profile that is nutty, caramelized, and smoky.
- Vermouth – Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with a variety of botanicals, including herbs, spices, and roots. Vermouth is typically used as a mixer in cocktails, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. It has a complex flavor profile that is sweet, bitter, and herbal.