Your ultimate guide to fortified wines

Have you ever tasted fortified wine before? If you haven’t, then you are missing out on a delightful treat that this wine has to offer. 

Fortified wines have a wide range of uses and flavours, but they all have the same thing in common: they have been fortified. What does that mean?


What is fortified wine?

Fortified wines are blended with spirits that help to better enhance the flavour and aroma. It is a fine wine that has an alcoholic content of more than 15% alcohol, which is why it is not allowed to be sold if it is classified as a table wine. In general, fortified wine is perfect if you are looking for a wine that has a sweet taste since with a smooth and rich finish. Fortified wines have a history and have been prevalent since the 17th century to give a more opulent flavour to the wine and help preserve it.


How to make fortified wine

The process of making fortified wine involves the fermentation of the base wine and blending the distilled spirits in.

The times when the base wine would ferment and the distilled spirits would be blended in would vary based on the wine. Some would only be blended in after the fermentation, producing a dry fortified wine. In others, the base wine would be blended with the spirits before fermentation starts, producing a sweet fortified wine. 

Fermentation occurs when the yeast breaks down sugars in the grape juice, producing ethyl alcohol. Now, when you add the spirit before fermentation or in mid-fermentation, it will kill the yeast, leaving a high amount of residual sugar. If you add the spirit after fermentation, the yeast will break down as many sugar molecules, resulting in a dried fortified wine with less sugar content.


What are the types of fortified wine?

Depending on the region, fortified wines are created differently, bearing unique taste, aroma and richness.


  • Port Wine
  • Port wine is a fortified wine from Portugal and is made from red grapes, using the Douro and Dao grape varietals. The wine has a distinct taste since the grapes used for brewing have been dried like raisins, which results in a great wine in the end. It has a rich and sweet taste and can be served on its own or with food.


  • Sherry
  • Sherry wine is a fortified wine from southern Spain and is usually made from Palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes from the Jerez region. 

    Sherry is known for its nutty, spicy and sweet taste. It is made from the Palomino grape and is aged for an average of 10 years. It is traditionally served with desserts and fruits.


  • Vermouth
  • Vermouth is a fortified wine that is made in Italy and is made from white wine, fortified with neutral alcohol, herbs and spices. These herbs and spices give vermouth its distinctive flavour and aroma. Vermouth can be served on its own or with food, like stuffed green olives.


  • Marsala
  • Marsala wine is another type of fortified wine fortified with brandy and is made in Sicily. The wine is made from white grapes and can vary in style, but commonly it is made from the Catarratto, Inzolia and Grillo grapes. Marsala wine can be served on its own or with food.


  • Moscatel de Setúbal
  • Moscatel de Setúbal is a Portuguese fortified wine that is made in the Setúbal region and is made from the Muscat grape. This wine has a distinct taste, especially when served combined with chocolate. It has a smooth, sweet and fruity flavour and aroma.


  • Madeira
  • Madeira is a fortified wine from the Madeira Islands in Portugal and is made from the Malvasia Fina grape varietal. Madeira can be made from either white or red wine and has a rich, sweet, smooth and nutty taste. The flavour and aroma of Madeira are popular for pairing with desserts and fruits.


    Fortified wine is a great option for those who are looking for something sweet, smooth and fruity. Refined and unique, fortified wine provides a rich, flavourful and enjoyable experience. So the next time you are in the mood for a drink, then try out a fortified wine for an experience that you will surely enjoy.

    Plonk Wine offers you sensational wines that will tickle your taste buds with their aroma and rich flavours, perfect as gifts for wine lovers. Let us help you explore the best fortified wines for your personal and gifting needs. Check out our shop today!


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