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Fortified Wines: Port and Madeira

Portugal is best known for their fortified wines, Port and Madeira.

Port is produced in the Douro Valley (and often finished in a town called Vila Nova di Gaia, which is across the Douro River from Porto), and Madeira only comes from the island of Madeira (400 miles off the coast of Africa).

Both are made in a fortified style, meaning that neutral brandy spirits are added during the winemaking process to stop fermentation while quite a bit of sugar is still present. What happens to the juice after that determines the type/style of wine.

You need to think of Port and Madeira as two very different wines because of the different grapes and winemaking techniques.

This is a tough subject, for there are many styles and layers to learn. Take your time with this, and come back to this lesson often over the course of a year.

Port Wine

Wine Folly: What is Port Wine?

Vinepair: All the Styles of Port Wine, Explained

Culture Trip: A Tale of Two Cities, Drinking Port in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia

In 2016, we led a group to Portugal and were able to participate in the harvest in the Douro. Here’s a great video our friend Ryan put together on the experience that day:

Madeira Wine

Wine Lover Magazine: Everything You Need to Know About Madeira Wine (very comprehensive, and some photos of the extreme vineyards)

Madeira geography and history: Wikipedia

World Atlas: Madeira Islands

Winesearcher: Madeira

Wine Folly: What is Madeira Wine?

Rare Wine Company: Madeira Wine – A Singular Glory