Best Fortified Wines Under $20

Fortified wines are a great way to add an extra layer of flavor and complexity to your dinner parties. These unique blends come in many different varieties, from sweet sherrys to dry vermouths. And the best part is that you don’t have to break the bank for some quality bottles!

We’ve scoured the market for the top fortified wines under $20 so you can enjoy a delicious glass without hurting your wallet. In this article, we’ll discuss which selections offer the most bang for your buck and provide tasting notes so you know what flavors to expect.

So if you’re looking for an easy way to elevate your next gathering, look no further than these fantastic fortified wines!


Sherry is a fortified wine, making it an ideal choice for those looking to explore the world of fortified wines on a budget.

Rich and aromatic, this Spanish classic has been produced since the Middle Ages; its sweet taste can be credited to both grapes used in production as well as aging methods which take place in small barrels made from American or European oak.

Furthermore, sherry offers drinkers a wide range of styles, allowing them to choose between dry or sweeter options that still remain affordable under twenty dollars. As such, it’s no surprise that sherry remains one of the most popular choices among people seeking out quality fortified wines at an economical price point.

Transitioning seamlessly into the next section then, Marsala also makes an excellent option for bargain hunters.


Marsala is a fortified wine from the Italian island of Sicily. It has an amber-brown color and a sweet, nutty flavor. It’s typically made with white grapes like Grillo or Catarratto that have been dried in the sun, then fermented and aged in wood barrels before being fortified with alcohol.

1) Marsala can be enjoyed on its own as an aperitif or used to make delicious desserts such as tiramisu.

2) Marsala also pairs well with foods like seafood dishes, roasted vegetables, poultry, pork, and veal. Its deep flavors go great with rich sauces and cheeses too.

This versatile wine is ideal for any occasion – whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just curling up by the fire with some friends. With its sweetness and complexity, it’s no wonder why Marsala remains one of the most popular wines today.

As we transition into discussing vermouth next, let’s take note of how this classic beverage brings out nuances even in simple recipes – making them special occasions worth celebrating!


Vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine that dates back to the 18th century in Turin, Italy. It is made through a combination of white or red wines and herbs, botanicals, spices, and other flavorings. Vermouth adds complexity to cocktails like martinis, Manhattans, and Negronis; however it can also be enjoyed on its own.

When selecting vermouth for sipping or mixing drinks at home, there are several factors to consider: Criterion Description Example
Price Cost per bottle Under $20
Origin Where it was produced Italian Origin
Base Wine Type of grape used as base White/Red Grapes
Bitter Level    Strength of bitterness from added herbs & spices    Extra Dry

Below are three excellent selections that fit within our criteria:

  • Martini & Rossi Bianco ($15): A light-bodied blend with hints of orange blossom and sage on the nose. The palate yields herbaceous flavors such as fennel and juniper with slight citrus undertones. Perfect for those who prefer a sweeter taste profile.
  • Cappelletti Aperitivo ($18): Produced in Trentino-Alto Adige region near northern Italy’s border with Austria. Offers complex herbal notes of bitter gentian root and sweet chamomile flowers alongside freshly cut grass aroma. Great balance between sweetness and bitterness makes this an ideal choice for spritzes or served neat over ice cubes.
  • Dolin Blanc de Chambery ($17): Made by one of only two remaining independent producers in France’s Savoie region using local alpine ingredients such as wormwood and Genepi -a flowering plant found growing wild in mountain meadows – which gives it distinct floral characteristics finished off with a mild hint of almond on the finish. This dry style works best when mixed into classic cocktails like French 75s or Martinez variations.

The range of styles available make vermouth perfect for almost any occasion. From light and refreshing to bolder interpretations, these wines offer great value for money delivered directly to your door step – making them convenient options if you’re looking for something special but don’t want to break the bank! Without further ado…


Port is a fortified wine made from grapes grown in Portugal. It has a sweet and full-bodied flavor, with aromas of dark fruit like plum or prune. Port typically contains anywhere between 18-20% alcohol by volume, making it higher than most table wines. It’s also designed to be enjoyed on its own as an after dinner treat or paired with desserts like chocolate cake or other rich dessert items.

When shopping for port, look for bottles labeled ‘Tawny,’ which indicate the age of the blend: 10 year old tawny means all components were aged for at least ten years before bottling; 20 year old tawny indicates that all components are at least twenty years old when bottled. The older ports tend to have more complex flavors and intense sweetness compared to lesser aged varieties. Most quality Ports can easily be found under $20 per bottle and make great gifts too!

Ports come in both dry (sec) and sweet (doux). Sweet Ports are usually served chilled while Dry Ports should be served closer to room temperature – this will help bring out the unique characteristics of each variety.

With so many delicious options available in this price range, there’s something sure to please any palate looking for a taste of luxury without breaking the bank! Onward now to Madeira…


Madeira is a fortified wine with a flavor profile like no other. It’s sweet and complex, yet still crisp and refreshing – truly a unique experience in the world of wines.

Picture an indulgent caramel apple on your tongue, each sip leading you to discover new layers of flavor that linger long after it has been consumed.

As its name suggests, Madeira originates from the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal. It was discovered by accident when sailors tried to transport regular red or white table wines over long distances only to find out upon arrival that due to extreme temperature variances during their journey, these wines had become something entirely different: richer, smoother and more complex than before!

Today this style of fortification can be found throughout the world – particularly within Europe where many producers are able to craft excellent examples at budget-friendly prices. You don’t need deep pockets for a bottle of Madeira; there are plenty of options under $20 that provide immense value for money without sacrificing quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Fortified Wines Better For Pairing With Food Than Regular Wines?

Fortified wines are often seen as better for pairing with food than regular wines, due to their higher alcohol content and stronger flavors.

The added alcohol creates a balance between the wine’s sweetness and acidity, giving it a more complex flavor profile that can complement different dishes.

Fortified wines also tend to be lower in tannins, making them less astringent on the palate which helps bring out the natural flavors of certain foods.

Additionally, fortified wines have been aged longer than most regular table wines so they may possess richer aromas and deeper flavor profiles that make them perfect for savory dishes.

How Long Can Fortified Wines Be Stored For?

Fortified wines can be stored for far longer than regular wines due to the higher alcohol content. The added spirit acts as a preservative, allowing fortified wines to last up to several decades without degrading in quality.

However, it’s important to store these bottles in cool, dark places and away from direct sunlight – otherwise they may lose their delicate flavors over time.

What Is The Difference Between Sherry, Marsala, Vermouth, Port, And Madeira?

When it comes to fortified wines, there are many different types and each have their own unique flavor profiles.

As the old adage goes, ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’, so let’s take a closer look at sherry, marsala, vermouth, port, and madeira to better understand how they differ from one another.

Sherry is a dry wine made in Spain;

Marsala is an Italian sweet wine with subtle herbal notes;

Vermouth is an aromatized fortified white or red wine;

Port is a sweet ruby-colored fortified wine produced in Portugal;

And Madeira is a Portuguese fortified dessert wine that can range in sweetness levels.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Fortified Wines?

Fortified wines, unlike regular wine, have a higher alcohol content due to the addition of brandy or other spirits. This makes them more caloric than regular wine but there are also potential health benefits associated with these drinks.

Research suggests that moderate consumption of fortified wines may help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk for stroke and heart disease. Studies indicate that consuming one glass per day can even be beneficial for your mental health as it leads to improved sleep patterns and an overall sense of wellbeing.

Is There A Limit To How Much Fortified Wine Should Be Consumed In One Sitting?

The idea of ‘too much’ is something that should always be taken into consideration when consuming any type of alcohol. While fortified wines can have some health benefits, it’s important to consider the potential risks associated with drinking too much of it.

Like other types of alcoholic beverages, there isn’t an exact limit for how much fortified wine should be consumed in one sitting – moderation is key.

Still, using a figure of speech: if you’re looking to enjoy fortified wines without going overboard, take small sips rather than large gulps.


Fortified wines are an amazing way to enhance the flavor of food, and can be stored for quite a long time without going bad. They offer many health benefits that regular wine doesn’t have as well. When consuming fortified wines, it is important to remember moderation – too much of anything isn’t good for you!

All in all, enjoying a glass or two of fortified wine is like taking a sip from a bottled sunset; sweet yet tangy notes dance on your tongue and make for an unforgettable experience. So if you’re looking for something special but don’t want to break the bank, give one of these delicious fortified wines under $20 a try – you won’t regret it!

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