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

Review: Inniskillin Ice Wines, 2020 Releases

By Christopher Null | February 27, 2020 |

It’s been six years since we checked in with Inniskillin (and six more years before that), so it’s high time we sampled the Canadian winery’s icewines once again. Inniskillin makes icewine (aka ice wine) from three different varietals (plus a sparkling version) all grown in the Niagara peninsula and all made from frozen grapes that…

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Review: Fonseca Bin 27 Port

By Christopher Null | January 28, 2020 |

Like Graham’s Six Grapes and Sandeman’s Founders Reserve, Fonseca Bin 27 is a widely available and top-selling ruby Port wine with wide availability, produced by one of Portugal’s most notable producers. We last encountered Bin 27 in an informal review with Taylor Fladgate group CEO Adrian Bridge way back in 2012. A fresh, more refined…

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Review: 2019 Tio Pepe Fino En Rama

By Christopher Null | November 11, 2019 |

It’s the 10th anniversary of “Tio Pepe En Rama,” the Jerez winery’s special edition Fino style sherry that is bottled unclarified and unfiltered. 67 casks were used to create this 2019 bottling, which is intended to be consumed as young as possible. As with the 2018, this sherry has all the trappings of a classic…

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Review: Graham’s Tawny Port 20 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 7, 2019 |

We’ve covered Graham’s 10 year old tawny Port a couple of times, but this is our first formal go-round with the 20 year old. This expression is a quite sweet raisin bomb up front, with a few cranberry and cherry notes mixed in for good measure. A hint of black tea and a touch of…

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Review: NV Croft Pink Rose Port

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2019 |

Croft Pink was the first Rose Port, and remains the most popular on the market (at least from my perspective). The style has been around only since 2008, but since that time dozens of major and minor Port producers have followed suit. The main difference in the production of Rose Port vs. other styles is…

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Perfect Pairings: Wine and a Surprising Type of Chocolate

By Robert Lublin | June 24, 2019 |

This will hurt some people’s feelings, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: dark chocolate does not pair well with wine. After a meal, nothing is classier than setting out some dark chocolate alongside a glass of 20 year-old tawny port. But the fact is that the dark chocolate and the…

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Tasting the Wines of Jose Maria da Fonseca, 2019 Releases

By Christopher Null | June 11, 2019 |

Jose Maria da Fonseca is one of those rarities we don’t see enough of in the U.S.: A Portuguese wine producer that makes red table wines (in addition to some sweet stuff). Established in 1834, J.M. da Fonseca now has vineyard holdings all across the country, and recently its head winemaker, Domingos Soares Franco, came…

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Review: Madeira Wines of Miles – Rainwater, Dry 10 Years Old, and Rich 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | May 31, 2019 |

We’ve covered Madeira wine extensively in past dispatches. Today we’re looking at three Madeira wines from Miles, which is part of the Blandy family’s Madeira Wine Company, a producer that has been producing wine on this Portuguese island since 1814. Thoughts follow on three different styles of Miles’ Madeiras, all nonvintage (and two with generalized…

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Tasting Report: 2017 Vintage Port

By Christopher Null | May 30, 2019 |

Vintage Port is on a roll. 2016 marked the first declaration for Vintage Port in five years, and now 2017 has been declared as well, the first back to back declaration for most Port producers in, well, forever. For Symington, which produces Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, and Cockburn’s (among other brands), it’s the first back to…

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Review: Ports of Warre’s – Warrior, Heritage Ruby, King’s Tawny, Otima 10, and White Port

By Christopher Null | May 19, 2019 |

Today we’re taking a belated look at four of the Port wines of Warre’s, one of the major Port houses, including its most widely-known expression, Warrior. We’re also looking at a fresh bottle of the 10 year old Otima Tawny, a wine we’ve reviewed three separate times in the past. These are all nonvintage bottlings,…

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