First, the definition: Fortified wine is a wine fermentation fortified with a clear grape spirit or brandy to increase the shelf life and amp up the alcohol content. Sometimes sugars and botanicals are added to modify flavor profiles and deepen textures.
Ports, Sherries, Vermouths, Madeiras all have this sense of being from a far off place. These are the sorts of bottles you get for a long voyage out beyond the horizon, because you know it’ll last and add a sweet end to a hard day. The bottles are always dark and heavy, their corks musty and dyed a dark red, and the contents inside take the edge off far faster than a mere glass of wine or mug of beer. Fortified wines bridge the world of alcohol between the easy low alcohol supping of wine and beer and the partying and numbing qualities of the spirits.
Below is your gateway to understanding the various types of fortified wines on the market and what makes each of them special. Once you open the door to this deliciously dark subset of alcohol, you’ll find a whole new world of tipple to explore and enjoy wherever you roam.