Port & Sherry

Fortified wines — the most notable being Port and sherry — are made by adding a neutral spirit (usually brandy) to stop fermentation and raise the alcohol level of the wine. This process allows fortified wines to age longer in the bottle and to remain fresh for a longer period after they have been opened. Fortified wines can be made from white or red grapes and run the gamut from dry to sweet, introducing a range of distinct styles. A favorite dessert wine, Port, is a fortified wine made in the Douro region of Portugal from a variety of different grapes. Port can be unaged or aged in wood barrels to create Ruby Port or aged for extended periods of time, even decades, to create Tawny. The best Port vintages are extensively aged to create Vintage Port, which can develop and improve for decades. Madeira is also a Portuguese fortified wine, but it is made on the Madeira Islands off the coast of Africa. Styles of Madeira run from the very dry Sercial, which is typically enjoyed as an aperitif, to the decadently sweet Malvasia, which is usually paired with desserts. Showing similar versatility is the Spanish fortified wine Sherry. Sherry is typically made with the Palomino grape and ranges from the dry Fino to the very sweet Jerez Dulce, which is often made with Pedro Ximénez grapes. Marsala is Italy’s versatile fortified wine, drawing from the city of Marsala in Sicily, and it too can range from dry to sweet. Today, Marsala is most commonly used in Italian cooking — dry versions appearing in sauces and sweet versions appearing in desserts. A final wine that deserves note is Vermouth, for which we have a dedicated section.

Top Port & Sherry Posts:

Exploring Port Wine: Touring Porto and the Douro Valley
What is Fortified Wine and How Is It Made?
2016 Vintage Port (and Beyond)
Madeira Wine 2018
Hidalgo Fino and Bodegas Dios Baco Oxford 1.970 Pedro Ximenez Sherry

Tasting Kopke Port with Winemaker Carla Tiago

By Robert Lublin | April 15, 2022 |

I recently had the chance to sample a range of Kopke Ports with winemaker Carla Tiago on her visit to Boston from Portugal. I was excited to see that she brought some well-aged white ports, which are uncommon in the U.S., as well as Colheita Port, which is single vintage Tawny Port that has been…

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Review: 2016 Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port

By Christopher Null | January 18, 2022 |

Dow’s latest LBV Port offering offers nothing in the way of surprises, presenting a fully expected rendition of Port at its most easygoing and approachable. Jammy, with notes of fresh, plump raisins and a slurry of milk chocolate, it’s a blunt but exuberant offering that finishes with a lightly syrupy texture that hints at oxidation.…

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Review: NV Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port California

By Christopher Null | December 8, 2021 |

Madera County’s Ficklin Vineyards is not just America’s oldest Port winery (established in 1946), it also seems to be the most highly awarded Port winery in the country, too, amassing a large collection of medals and stellar ratings. The company sent its most recent bottling of Old Vine Tinta Port, one of its most affordable…

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Tasting the Wines of Sicily, 2021 Releases

By Christopher Null | November 21, 2021 |

Today we present a collection of Sicilian wines, all part of a (Zoom-based) tasting organized by Assovini Sicilia, an association of 91 Sicilian wineries that is designed to promote the many wines of this region. A total of 10 wines were tasted, all made with indigenous grapes. Ready to dig in? Let’s go. 2020 Mandrarossa…

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Review: NV Cockburn’s Porto Branco

By Christopher Null | August 7, 2021 |

Summer is made for mixing up cocktails with white Port — just add tonic and an orange slice if you have it. Cockburn’s nonvintage Porto Branco offers an approachable, if innocuous, way to explore some of the charms of this unique wine — at a very reasonable price. It’s a classic example of the style,…

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Review: Graham’s Tawny Port 10 Years Old (2021)

By Christopher Null | May 10, 2021 |

No big changes for Graham’s entry-level 10 year old tawny expression since our last look in 2016; even the packaging remains the same 5 years on. And sure enough, it remains one of my top expressions from Graham’s, particularly considering the price (though it appears to be going up). Notes of plump raisins, dried cherries,…

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Review: Sandeman Port – Founder’s Reserve, 20 Year Tawny, and 30 Year Tawny (2021)

By Christopher Null | March 25, 2021 |

We’ve reviewed the Port wines of Sandeman on several occasions, the most recent in 2016. Today we look at a smattering of offerings from the iconic house on the Douro river, including a fresh look at Founder’s Reserve — which now has an apostrophe in it! — and two well-aged tawny offerings. Sandeman Founder’s Reserve…

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Review: 2015 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port

By Christopher Null | December 17, 2020 |

Recently we reviewed Dow’s LBV Port from 2015, now it’s Taylor Fladgate’s turn. This is Fladgate’s 50th year producing Late Bottled Vintage Port, so — well, that’s something to celebrate, right? This expression is bright and fruity in keeping with the usual style of LBV Port wines. Big cherry, strawberry, and raspberry notes hit first,…

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Review: Dow’s Tawny Port 10 Years Old and 20 Years Old (2020)

By Christopher Null | November 30, 2020 |

It’s only been a year since we looked at Dow’s two entry-level Tawny Port releases, one a 10 year old and one a 20 year old. We just got fresh bottles of each, so let’s take a spin back into these expressions to see what, if anything, has changed. Dow’s Tawny Port 10 Years Old…

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Review: Lustau “En Rama” Sherry Wines, 2020 Releases

By Robert Lublin | September 29, 2020 |

Although you may have tried American sherry, true sherry is made exclusively in a small triangular area in Spain geographically demarcated by the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Sherry has been growing in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years, but it can…

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