Aperitif

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Fortified wine types

Fortified Wine

Wine which has a spirit added to it. This additional spirit is often Brandy although neutral spirit can also be used.

The reasons for adding the spirit was originally for preservation purposes.

Madeira is a fortified wine made on the Portuguese Madeira Islands which are situated off the coast of Africa. It is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif to sweet wines usually consumed with dessert.

Marsala is from Scicily and can be found as both a wine, and a fortified wine.

Fortified Marsala is blended with brandy to make two styles;

Fine (at least 17% abv) and aged at least four months;

Superiore: which is at least 18%, and aged at least two years.

Unfortified Marsala is aged in wooden casks for at least five years.

Moscatel de Setúbal, to give it it’s full name,  is from Portugal. It is produced around the Setúbal Municipality, hence it’s full name.

Moscatel is made primarily from the Muscat of Alexandria grape and typically fortified with alcohol (generic).

Over to Spain and the south-western city of Jerez. The production area is in fact a protected designation of origin, meaning anything labelled ‘Sherry’, can only come from the ‘Sherry Triangle’  – and area in the Cádiz provence between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María.

Sherry is fortified with brandy after fermentation, giving a usually dry character – however, there are many types of sherry available;

Fino
A traditional variety of Sherry, this is dry and pale

Manzanilla
This is a Fino Sherry, but an especially light variety.

Manzanilla
Another variety of Fino, made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Manzanilla Pasada
A Manzanilla that has undergone extended aging or has been partially oxidised, giving a richer, nuttier flavour.

Amontillado
Sherry that is first aged under flor and then exposed to oxygen, producing a darker Sherry, although lighter than Oloroso.
Usually dry, they are sometimes sold lightly to medium sweetened although these can no longer be labelled as Amontillado.

Oloroso
In Spanish, Oloroso means ‘scented’.  The sherry is aged oxidatively for a longer time than a Fino or Amontillado, producing a darker and richer wine.

Like Amontillado it is a dry Sherry although sweetened versions called Cream sherry exist. 

Palo Cortado
Initially aged like an Amontillado, (about 3-4 years) it then develops a character closer to an Oloroso. 

Jerez Dulce
Jerez Dulce, or Sweet Sherries are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez (PX) or Moscatel grapes, which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety.

Cream Sherry
A type of sweet sherry first made in the ’60s by blending Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez for example.

Prohibited Sherry terms:

Sweet Oloroso
Rich Oloroso
Oloroso Dulce

From Portugal of course, Port is a fortified wine which comes from the famed wine production area of the Douro Valley.

Vermouth is a fortified wine which has been flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon an marjoram.

 

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