Types Of Fortified Wine

Wine is an age-old beverage enjoyed by many around the world. It comes in a variety of types, styles, and flavors that cater to different preferences.

One type of wine that’s particularly popular is fortified wine, which has been around for centuries. Fortified wines have higher alcohol content than regular table wines because they’re blended with brandy or other spirits.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of fortified wines available and their unique characteristics.


Once upon a time there was an old, wise sailor named Captain Port. He had sailed across great oceans and seen many wonders of the world. But one thing kept him grounded- his beloved port wine. It gave him courage in moments of fear, comforted him on lonely nights at sea, and reminded him of home when he felt lost or homesick.

Port is a type of fortified wine that originated from Portugal but has since become popular all over the world. Its sweet taste comes from adding neutral grape spirits during fermentation, which gives it its signature high alcohol content and syrupy texture. Popular styles include ruby ports, tawny ports, and vintage ports.

Ruby port is young with fruity flavors while tawny’s are aged for several years resulting in nuttier aromas and deeper flavor profiles. Vintage ports come from single vineyards and only certain vintages will be declared ‘vintage’ quality due to strict regulations around production methods.

Captain Port enjoyed sampling these different varieties whenever he could find them on land or at sea- whether it be enjoying a glass after dinner or sharing stories with new friends as they sipped their drinks together. As much as he relished drinking this unique libation, nothing compared to the joy he found in introducing others to the amazing flavor combinations offered by port wines! Without any further ado, let us explore another classic variety- madeira…


Madeira is a type of fortified wine that originated in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco. It has been popular with seafarers since the Age of Exploration, as it can withstand long voyages and heat better than other wines due to its high levels of acidity and alcohol content.

The base for this style of wine is made from grapes grown on the islands; then, the fortification process begins by adding brandy or distilled spirits before fermentation is complete.

The flavor profile of Madeira varies greatly depending on how old it is – younger versions tend to be sweet and fruity while older vintages are more savory and nutty in taste. For example, Sercial Madeiras have bright citrus flavors while Malmsey varieties are much richer and sweeter.

Regardless of age, all styles share an underlying characteristic: dryness accompanied by a slightly bitter finish that lingers on the palate.

This unique combination makes Madeira one of the most versatile types of fortified wine around. Its complexity means it can pair well with many different kinds dishes such as seafood, roasted vegetables, cheeses, pâtés and cured meats – providing a depth and richness to any meal.

With its ancient roots and diverse range of flavors, it’s no wonder why this timeless classic continues to remain so popular today.

Transitioning into another type of fortified wine, Marsala comes next…


  1. There’re two main types of Marsala – sweet and dry.

  2. It’s produced in Italy, mainly around the city of Marsala in Sicily.

  3. It’s made from a variety of white and black grapes, fortified with brandy.

  4. It’s used in cooking, especially in classic Italian dishes like Chicken Marsala.

  5. It’s also great for sipping, and is often served as an aperitif.

  6. It’s a versatile wine, and its sweetness and complexity makes it a great accompaniment to both savoury and sweet dishes.

Types Of Marsala

Marsala is a type of fortified wine produced in the town of Marsala, located on the west coast of Sicily. It’s typically sweet and has an alcohol content of 15-20%.

There are three main types of Marsala: Fine, Superiore, and Vergine or Riserva. Fine is the most basic style; it’s made from white grapes and can be used for cooking as well as drinking.

Superiore has a higher minimum aging time than Fine, with at least two years being required before release. It also contains more residual sugar than other varieties.

Lastly, Vergine or Riserva are aged for four years and have quite high levels of sweetness due to their prolonged contact with syrup during production.

No matter which you choose, all types of Marsala make great accompaniments to desserts such as tiramisu or panna cotta. They’re also perfect for sipping after dinner – best served chilled!

Production Of Marsala

In order to produce Marsala, white grapes are harvested and then fermented.

During the fermentation process sugar is added in order to create a fortified wine with an alcohol content of 15-20%.

After this initial mixing, it’s aged for two years or more depending on its type.

For example, Vergine or Riserva must be aged for four years since during production it has contact with syrup that gives it extra sweetness.

This aging period allows all types of Marsala to develop their distinct flavor profiles which make them perfect for cooking or sipping after dinner – best served chilled!

Uses Of Marsala

Now that we know how Marsala is made, let’s discuss the many uses for this unique fortified wine.

It’s most commonly used in cooking as a sauce or glaze to enhance the flavor of dishes like veal, chicken, and seafood. In baking it can be added to cakes and other desserts to give them an extra kick!

Additionally, you can use Marsala as a finishing touch in cocktails or pour it over ice cream and fruit. Not only does it taste great but adding some Marsala will also make any dish look more impressive. And who doesn’t want that?

Finally, sipping on a chilled glass of Marsala after dinner makes for an indulgent treat – perfect for special occasions or just because.


As the old saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’

Sherry is a type of fortified wine made in and around the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia, Spain. It can be classified into three different categories:

  • Finos- typically dry with light body and salty finish
  • Olorosos – medium to full bodied sweet wines
  • Cream sherries- sweetened with Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel grapes

Sherry has been produced for hundreds of years, making it one of the oldest fortified wines known today. Its production process involves aging under flor yeast which gives it its distinctive character.

The popularity of sherry continues to rise due to its versatility as an ingredient in many cocktails or enjoyed on its own. With so much potential creativity available at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to give sherry a try!

Moving on from here we will explore another popular Spanish fortified wine – vermouth.


Vermouth is a type of fortified wine that originated in Italy and has become popular worldwide. It is made by infusing herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, roots and other plants into white or red wine. This infusion gives vermouth its unique flavor profile, which can range from sweet to dry depending on the ingredients used.

Vermouth has been used as an apéritif since the 18th century, with many drinkers enjoying it before meals as part of their practice of indulging in aperitivo hour. Vermouth is typically classified by color; there are two types: white (bianco) and red (rosso).

White vermouths often have notes of citrus zest and floral aromas while red vermouths tend to be more herbal and earthy. Both versions may include additional flavors such as nutmeg, cinnamon or rosemary to enhance their complexity. Depending on the brand and style of vermouth, they may also contain added sugar or caramelized syrup to give them sweetness.

No matter what kind you choose, high-quality vermouth should always be served chilled or over ice for maximum enjoyment. As an ingredient in cocktails like Negroni or Manhattan, it adds subtle nuances that make these drinks memorable—and delicious!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Alcohol Content Of Fortified Wines?

Fortified wines are typically higher in alcohol content than regular table wines. Generally, fortified wines have an alcoholic strength of around 17-20 percent ABV (alcohol by volume).

Those with a lower ABV tend to be sweeter and lower in alcohol, while those with a higher ABV will usually be drier and richer.

Some examples of fortified wines include port, sherry, vermouth, madeira, Marsala and Vin Santo.

Are Fortified Wines Suitable For Cooking?

Fortified wines are a type of wine that has been fortified with brandy or other spirits. Suitable for cooking? Absolutely! In fact, they often offer more flavor and complexity to dishes than regular table wines.

Fortified wines make great additions to braised meats, casseroles, stews, sauces, desserts, and many other recipes. They also pair nicely with dark chocolate and can be used in marinades as well.

So go ahead – experiment with your favorite fortified wines when you’re in the kitchen!

Do Fortified Wines Contain Sulfites?

Yes, fortified wines contain sulfites.

Sulfites occur naturally in wine from the fermentation process, but also can be added to preserve a longer shelf life and greater stability.

Fortified wines generally have more sulfites than unfortified wines due to their higher alcohol content.

The amount of sulfites that are present in fortified wines varies depending on the type and producer, so make sure you check any labels before consuming if you’re concerned about your reaction to them.

How Long Can Fortified Wines Be Stored For?

Fortified wines can typically be stored for a long time without spoiling, often up to 20 years. This is due to the addition of brandy or other alcohols during the production process, which increases its ABV (alcohol by volume) and acts as a preservative.

It’s important to store fortified wines in cool, dark places so that they don’t spoil prematurely, such as cellars or wine fridges.

If you keep your fortified wines at the right temperature and humidity levels with no direct sunlight exposure then it should last for many years; however, once opened you must finish it within several weeks or months depending on the type of fortified wine being consumed.

Are Fortified Wines Gluten-Free?

Fortified wines have a reputation for being gluten-free, but it isn’t always the case.

While many fortified wines are free of gluten, there are some that contain trace amounts or even higher levels of gluten.

To be sure you’re getting what you expect from your wine selection, it’s best to do your due diligence and research before pouring a glass.

As they say, forewarned is forearmed!


Fortified wines are an interesting alcoholic beverage that can be used for much more than just drinking.

With a variety of types to choose from and important considerations such as alcohol content, sulfites, gluten-free status, and storage duration, there’s something for everyone.

In addition to their versatility in the kitchen and bar, fortified wines also have the added benefit of lasting longer than other types of wine – making them great for occasions where you want your drink to last!

So whether you’re looking to impress at a dinner party or just enjoy a glass with friends, fortified wines offer a unique experience that won’t soon be forgotten.

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