Ports, Sherries and other Fortified Wines
Fortified wines—that is, wines whose alcoholic strength has been fortified with spirits—are under appreciated, undervalued and virtually indestructible; a great value for the wine collector. Although today they are most often served as aperitifs or as dessert wines, they were originally the everyday wines of seafarers, invented by the Spanish to protect the wines from spoilage during the long sea voyages of the age of exploration.
For this lesson we tried a variety of Ports and Sherries from Portugal, Spain and Australia.
We tried both Ruby and Tawny Port (from Portugal), Fino and Amontillado Sherry (from Spain), Madeira (from Portugal) and a Tawny (from South Australia). We were supposed to get a Sticky but could not find one here in Duluth so we settled for the Tawny.
This was a fun, fun lesson. We all enjoyed the aromas and flavors or these complex wines.
Our first wine was Quinta de Honor Ruby Port ($22.99). It’s color was deep ruby (no surprise there), smelled of red fruits, and was quite sweet. Our second wine, also from Portugal, was James R. Dow’s Fine Tawny Port ($14.99). The color was tawny ruby, smelled of toffee, was sweet and smooth.
Our first Sherry was a huge surprise. We tried Tio Pepe Fino Sherry ($18.99). It was a pale, pale yellow, smelled sweet like almonds and honey but did not taste one bit sweet. It was dry but didn’t seem dry at all. Apparently this wine is very low in acid. It was so incredibly light, it was almost like water except it had a slightly salty finish and it seemed wetter than water.
Our second Sherry was Sandeman‘s Amontillado Character ($19.99). It was amber, smelled of caramel, hazelnut and toast, tasted sweet and nutty with a nutty finish.
The Madeira was from Broadbent ($16.99). It was dark amber, smelled of raisins, prunes and something nutty, tasted sweet, strong and a bit astringent. It had a light body and a quick finish.
Our final tasting, Penfold’s Club Tawny ($9.99) was the cheapest price of the night. It was not the most complex, but at this price you wouldn’t expect it to be. It is still a very drinkable wine. It smelled of red fruits and finished sweet.
In all, no one was unhappy with these wines. In fact, we all came away with a greater appreciation for fortified wines. Cheers!