This week we're chatting about Portuguese wine! Specifically we're highlighting the history of Ports and Madeiras which are both well known in the dessert wine world.
Technically, you do want to try and limit each pour to 1-2 ounces, but sometimes the sweetness is hard to resist and we're not judging! The history of both wines is fascinating. Ports and Maderias seem like they were made by mistake as the end result of the varietal they are today. Watch our full IGTV on Wine in Portugal here!
History + Quick Facts
Port wines started off as table wine but people wanted to make them more shelf stable and palatable. So, they started adding brandy to them. The addition of brandy to the wine added shelf stability but also was quite delicious. Today the process has been perfected and brandy is added during the fermentation process. When Ports were first made the brandy was added after the fermentation process.
There's over 500 different grape varieties grown in Portugal that contribute to making Ports and there is not one dominant varietal that stands out to make Ports. In fact, because there are so many grape varietals planted at some vineyards in Portugal, sometimes the winemaker may not even be able to identify which exact varietals are used within each wine.
Originally Madeiras were a wine commodity that were shipped overseas on long journeys, during these journeys the wine would get "baked" which changed the taste to a more sweet varietal that people still enjoyed. The combination of heat and fortification is the technique used for Madeira's grapes that give us the final version of the sweet wine enjoyed today! The process has been perfected so that it is not destroyed when baked at this point.
Sometimes Madeiras are referred to as "dead wine" - since it has already "baked" you can open it and it will not spoil, a great after dinner delight that can be enjoyed throughout the year! It’s a great investment opportunity since they do not spoil.
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