Flavor & Strength of Fortified Wines


Fortified Wine is a type of wine to which distilled liquors like brandy are added. Fortified Wines are often confused with distilled spirits. Fortified Wines are not distilled but instead distilled beverages are added to them. Originally used as a method for prevention through which the natural yeast present in the beverage may be destroyed and thus stop further fermentation, wines are fortified nowadays in order to enhance flavor and strength of the drink.

Adding Spirits to Wine

Adding spirits to wine prematurely stops fermentation and thereby leaves natural sugars intact within the beverage. This eventually results in a sweeter wine with more alcohol content by volume. Quite often, Fortified Wines are also referred to as Dessert Wine due to the high level of sweetness and the tendency to be consumed following meals.

History of Fortified Wines

History of Fortified Wines during the Great Depression took a bad turn merely because high number of inexpensive wines at that time, were fortified in order to produce high alcohol content beverages. Several high alcohol content Fortified Wines which are inexpensive are still sold in the market even today, and many of which are banned or restricted in some regions.

Popular Varieties of Fortified Wines

Some of the most popular varieties of Fortified Wines are enumerated below.

  • Madeira – This is a type of Fortified Wine which is produced in Madeira Islands. Madeira can range from dry to sweet. While sweet varieties of Madeira are consumed as Dessert Wine, the dry varieties of this Fortified Wine are generally consumed as aperitifs.
  • Marsala – The two varieties of Marsala which are available include the fortified version and the non-fortified one. However, both these wines are named after the port of Marsala located in Sicily. Brandy is added to fortify Marsala which was originally created as a substitute for Sherry. Marsala is particularly a very popular ingredient in Italian cooking and is commonly added to risottos, desserts & sauces.
  • Port – This is a popular type of red wine which is produced in Portugal. Port is typically fortified with a spirit called Aguardente. Fortified Port Wine is normally sweet, but dry and semi-dry varieties are also available. Fortified Port Wine is most often consumed as Dessert Wine.
  • Sherry – This type of Fortified Wine is produced in Spain. In fact, Sherry is slightly different from other types of Fortified Wines due to the reason that it is fortified only after completion of the fermentation process. Sherry therefore is a dry wine with high alcohol content by volume. Quite often, Sherry is consumed as an aperitif from small tulip shaped glasses which are known as ‘Copita’.
  • Vermouth – This wine is not just fortified with spirits but also flavored with spices and herbs. While recipe of Vermouth is kept secret, some of the spices and herbs which are used in the making include cardamom, marjoram, chamomile & cinnamon. Vermouth today is a popular ingredient in several cocktails and also consumed straight as an aperitif.