When the occasion arises for a dry wine that can be sipped indulgently, fortified wine is the aptest solution. Available in either dry or sweet varieties, fortified wine is the perfect drink for a late-night tipple or at a dinner party.
Types of Fortified Wine
Port, vermouth and sherry are all examples of fortified wine, and they’re also extremely popular drinks, so there’s a high chance that you’ve consumed fortified wine – perhaps without even knowing what a fortified wine is.
What is Fortified Wine?
In short, fortified wine refers to still wines that have been mixed with a distilled spirit. The wine itself has not been distilled, but the spirit has.
As a result of the wine being mixed with a spirit, the alcohol percentage increases.
Previously, spirits were added to wine to prevent them from turning into vinegar during long sea voyages, but it just so happens that along with preserving the life of the wine, distilled spirits also greatly enhance the taste.
Typically, fortified wine is aged in oak casks which makes them ideal for aerating and decanting which is the process of allowing the wine to oxidize, resulting in a fresher taste.
How is Fortified Wine Made?
How fortified wine is made depends on the type of wine that is being made. Where dry fortified wines are being made, like sherry, the spirit will be added after the wine fermentation process has concluded. By adding the spirit after fermentation, there is no residual sugar, therefore the wine is kept dry and not sweet.
In the case of sweet fortified wines like port, the distilled spirit is added to the base wine during the fermentation process. A grape spirit like brandy is typically used, and this stops the alcoholic fermentation process early because the yeast is killed off. When this happens, there is more residual sugar which is what makes the fortified wine sweet.
Benefits of Fortified Wine
In addition to its great taste, fortified wine has been linked to a range of benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer through the rich antioxidant count. Antioxidants effectively protect cells in your body from free radicals (unstable, unpaired electron molecules). Free radicals are links to a lot of unpleasant health conditions and diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from developing which protects your cells and lowers your chances of developing associated health complications. Fortified wine is rich in antioxidants, which is good news for your cells!
When consumed in moderation, fortified wine could increase the level of HDL cholesterol. This is a good type of cholesterol that keeps your arteries clear of fat and plaque which could result in heart disease. Of course, you should always drink in moderation, but a glass of fortified wine a week could do you more good than you think!
Uses of Fortified Wine
Aside from the health benefits associated with drinking fortified wine, it’s also a great addition to a cocktail. Popular fortified wine cocktails include:
- Port of Call
- Sherry Spritzer
- The Aphrodite
- Madeira Cobbler
- Sherry Cobbler
These are great alternatives to the classic cocktail choices and can add something unexpected to your next cocktail party.
In terms of cooking, fortified wine is typically thought of as either an aperitif or a dessert option. It goes well in a range of cooking sauces, but it’s exceptional when paired with cheese, fruit and nuts. Fortified wines like ruby port and cream sherry are excellent choices for cooking and should definitely be considered when you’re next thinking about whipping up a dessert or a dressing.
Whether you’re choosing a classic red or fortified wine, make sure you store it properly on one of our wine racks. To find out more about wine storage, please contact us.