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Fortified wine may cause some confusion for consumers. In Portugal, liqueur wine or fortified wine are wines with a higher alcoholic content. This high alcoholic content may have two origins: the addition of grape brandy to the wine during fermentation, or the grapes might simply have a very high initial probable alcohol content.  

The most well-known fortified wine styles in Portugal are Port wine, Madeira wine, Carcavelos wine and Moscatel.

In these wines, grape brandy is added during the alcoholic fermentation.

Adding brandy to the fermenting must drastically increases the alcohol levels, killing the yeast (microorganisms responsible for converting sugar into alcohol), thus bringing fermentation to a rapid halt. As a result, we obtain a wine that has a high grape sugar content and a high alcoholic volume as a result of adding grape brandy.

Port wines include red fortified wine (Ruby, harvest, LBV, Vintage and Tawny), white fortified wine (sweet, dry and extra sweet, or lagrima), fortified rose wine (Pinky) and dry liqueur Port (with no residual sugar). 

Another less well-known type of fortified wine is the Pico Liqueur Wine which, with no addition of grape brandy (non-fortified) manages to reach high alcoholic content simply because it has another type of grape and production style, Pico liqueur wine can be sweet, semi-sweet, or dry.

The term fortified wine in French, Vin Liquoreux, has a somewhat different meaning, as it means wines with a higher sugar content, not necessarily fortified or with a high alcohol content, as for example the famous Sauternes, or the wines from Anjou-Saumur in the Loire Valley.

 

What is Fortified Wine?

In Portugal, liqueur wine or fortified wine is a wine with a higher alcoholic content. These wines have a high alcohol content due to the addition of grape brandy or its high probable alcohol content. The most well-known fortified wines in Portugal are Port wine, Madeira wine, Carcavelos wine and Moscatel. 

On the island of Pico, in the Azores, there is also the Pico Liqueur Wine, which is not a fortified wine and, due to the production method and type of grape used, does not need the addition of grape brandy.

 

What pairs well with Fortified Wine? 

What pairs well with this wine? We know that fortified wines are quite intense and aromatic. Thus, these wines should be enjoyed at the end of a meal or a get-together. Depending on the amount of sugar in the fortified wine, and its acidity, we can pair the fortified wines in the following ways:

  • Liqueur wines with a high level of sweetness, such as LBV and Vintage, go well with desserts made with chocolate and ripe red fruit.
     
  • Wines with high acidity, such as the fortified wines from Pico, go well with the island's famous spicy cheese.
     
  • Wines with elegance and subtlety, such as Colares and Tawny Ports, go well with traditional convent confectionery

 

Buy Fortified Wine

When buying fortified wine, it is always important to keep the purpose of the purchase in mind, whether we want it to accompany a meal or dessert or simply as an aperitif/digestive, which is the most common reason. It is always interesting and surprising to try Pico's Verdelho 10 years and, in the future, LBV Maçanita, excellent examples of fortified wines to accompany desserts or a good cheese.

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