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Simple, about wines | Discover fortified wine

fortified wines

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Viticulture and oenology* are fields of activity that have developed so much that terminology and classifications have become complicated, being more accessible to professionals and novices. This path is a natural one, only mankind has been cultivating the vine and making wine for thousands of years. To make the fascinating universe of wines accessible to the uninitiated, we will try to address here some of the terms and notions that we encounter most often when we come into contact with the world of drinks, and wine in particular.

fortified wines

Fortified wines or dessert wines

In order to appreciate the uniqueness of fortified wines and what gives them their specific and special flavors at the same time, it is necessary to learn some information about the manufacturing process.

In short, a fortified wine is a wine to which, during or at the end of the fermentation process, a distilled alcoholic beverage has been added, usually brandy or other alcohol distilled from grapes.


Fortified wines appeared with the aim of extending the life of wines in the absence of airtight transport containers. Ancient casks were not airtight enough to protect the wine during very long journeys, and often the wine reached its destination vinegared. Thus, winemakers found the solution to add alcohol to wine. Even though other preservation methods now exist, fortification continues to be used because the process can add distinct flavors to the finished product.


Like normal wines, fortified wines are divided into two categories: sweet and dry. Although both are produced by adding distilled alcohol, the sugar level can be adjusted depending on when the alcohol is added during the fermentation process. The yeast, through the fermentation process, transforms the sugars in the must into alcohol. By adding distilled alcohol, the yeast becomes inactive, the fermentation process is interrupted, so the drink remains with more sugar. In this way, the sugar content of fortified wines can be controlled. To obtain a drier fortified wine, alcohol will be added as close to the end of the fermentation process as possible.

Fortified wine styles

The rules and instructions for making fortified wine vary by region. Here are some of the most popular types:


This fortified wine is produced in the Jerez region of Spain and is made from Palomino, Muscat or Pedro Ximénez grapes. Sherry production is unique in that the winemaker intentionally exposes the wine to oxygen, a practice that gives the wine a nutty, slightly salty flavor. Before bottling, whole barrels are blended with portions of older wines. This is known as the method solera and is almost entirely exclusive to sherry.

Sherry, like vermouth, is fortified with brandy and typically contains about 15 to 18 percent alcohol by volume. Like any wine, it should be refrigerated, but it will keep its freshness about four times longer than a typical wine. There are many styles of sherry, from the style Finno more open to style smelly darker.


Port wine comes from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. There are many varieties of Port wine, but its most popular form is a sweet red wine, perfect for a digestif after a meal. Those looking for a different type of dessert wine might consider a white Port or a rosé Port. The two main categories of Port wine are Ruby Port and Tawny Port. Ruby Port is a red blend that contains wines such as Vintage Port and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV). Tawny Port is aged in barrels and can contain 10, 20 or even 30 year old Tawny Port and Colheita wines.


This type of fortified wine originates from Portugal's Madeira Islands, the region where it is produced through a unique artificial heating process known as we stew. The types of Madeira range from dry wines served as an aperitif to sweet wines served with dessert.

Madeira is a special wine also because its lifespan is very long, a good Madeira can age up to 100 years.


Marsala is a wine produced in the west of the island of Sicily. Marsala is made from Italian white grapes and, depending on the type, the wine contains between 15 and 20 percent alcohol by volume. According to the sugar content, there are dry, semi-dry and sweet Marsala. By color, we have Marsala Oro, Ambra and Rubino.


Vermouth is an aromatized wine with fruits, spices and flowers and is classified as a sub-category of fortified wine.

Dry vermouth, sometimes called French vermouth, has a special freshness and a special floral aroma. Dry vermouth is made by mixing white wine with herbs and spices before adding alcohol for fortification and is an essential element of the classic Martini.

Sweet vermouth, sometimes called Italian vermouth, has a denser composition and a more caramelized and fruity taste than dry vermouth. Although some producers insist on this, it is not necessary that it be made from red wine. Sweet vermouth finds its place in many classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Negroni, but can also be enjoyed on its own with some ice or soda.

Fortified wines from Israel

In recent years, several Israeli wineries have also produced port-style fortified wines, and today there are various options, such as:

Teperberg, Nevel – It is developed for 15 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels and has a dark ruby color. Teperberg's Nevel (Hebrew for harp), suggests aromas reminiscent of cherries, black berries, plums, chocolate and vanilla.

Carmel Winery, Vintage, 2007 – based on Petite Sirah grapes from Judean Hills vineyards, this vintage port style wine from Carmel Winery was developed for 18 months in French oak barrels. Dark in colour, full-bodied with a silky feel on the palate, the wine has concentrated notes of cherries, black berries, raisins and dark chocolate, all of which come together beautifully and lead to a lingering aftertaste.

Golan Heights, Yarden, T2, 2009 – the first Israeli Port-style wine from Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cao grapes, both Portuguese grape varieties traditionally used to produce Port wines in Portugal. 26 months in French oak, taste and smell of ripe cherries, figs and black berries followed by notes of dark chocolate, cinnamon, cloves and a touch of smoke.

*Oenology (enology) or wine technology is the science that deals with the study and methods of preparation, conditioning and preservation of wines and products derived from grapes, must or wine.

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