What comes to mind when you hear the words fortified wine? Possibly nothing. Let us change that for you in our spotlight on fortified wines
Is that just a flash name for a sweet wine? Is it quite strong? Isn’t that something only people who wear tweed jackets drink?
These are just some of the complex queries that may enter your mind when you’re offered a fortified wine. So before we go any further in our crash course of fortified wine, can we just ask, what actually is a fortified wine?
To cut a long story short, fortified wine is a category of wine. Wine that has been “fortified” with additional alcohol. This additional alcohol is added to the base wine during the fermentation process, bringing up the alcohol content to around 17%-20% (normal wines are 12.5%-14.5%). So yes, you were right about the strong bit.
And as for the sweet bit – yes – fortified wines are generally produced in either a sweet variety or a dry one. The determining factor in whether a fortified wine will fall in the dry or sweet category is the time the additional alcohol (known as neutral grape spirits)is added during the fermentation process.
In sweet fortified wines, the neutral grape spirits are usually added in the first day and a half of fermentation. For dry fortified wines, the additional alcohol is added once fermentation has taken place and remaining sugar has been consumed. The main varieties of fortified wines are sherry, port, madeira and marsala.
And as for the tweed coat thing? Well, that’s stereotyping. Stereotyping and slightly behind the times because despite their reputation for being more of a tipple for the oldies, fortified wines are making quite a comeback on the drinks scene. So if you’re wanting to be up with the play, have a quick peek at some fortified wines that might tickle your fancy:
Barros Tawny port: Rich and elegantly smooth, this port is beautiful on the palate. Flavours of spiced plum and rich red fruits make this a beautiful drop to have after dinner with cheeses and dried fruit.
Old Masters Cream Sherry: This cream sherry is aromatic, sweet and nutty. Golden in colour and with notes of toffee and maple syrup, Old Masters is lovely when sipped slowly after a meal with a piece of chocolate or a nutty dessert.
Florio Gran Chef Marsala: An Italian fortified wine, Florio Gran Chef is intense in flavour and in its amber colour. Notes of almond and liquorice fill the body of this marsala making it a beautiful addition to Italian desserts.