Fortified wine is a wine to which the spirits of the distilled beverages like brandy are added. In order to increase the alcohol content of the wine the spirits are added before the fermentation process is complete. This kills the yeast leaving the residual sugar behind. Thus fortified wines have mostly a certain residual sugar, but they can also be “dry”.
Many varieties of the fortified wines are developed. The most common and famous fortified wines are Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Vermouth. The famous regions for producing fortified wines are France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Most of the fortified wines have their name from where they are produced. And the wines with the regional name have different distinct style.
Further the wines are classified according to the grade of the grapes used, fermenting process and origin. In certain cases the fortified wines are confined with the Appellation of Controlled origin, this means that only the wines that belong to the certain regions have can bear that name. Wine from other different regions can be labeled only as being the "style".
Port wine is also used as a dessert wine if the brandy is added to the fortified wine before the fermentation process beings. The resulting port wine is very sweet and rich. Adding, the spirit of brandy after the fermentation process results in a dry wine such as Vermouth. The flavor of the fortified wines varies depending on the aging process and the way it is handled.
Sometimes the fortified wines are used in mixed bar drinks, like e.g. Vermuth. It is also used as cooking wines along with sherry, port wine and madeira. Contradiction to the traditional wine the fortified wines last longer after opening. Hence the fortified wines can be served in small amounts allowing the drinker to enjoy each sip of the wine.
Food pairing with the fortified wine depends on the type of fortified wine you are choosing. Generally the fortified wines are known for their long standing contribution both as an aperitif and as a dessert wine. Desserts like cheeses, nuts, creamy desserts, chocolate, fruits torts go well with the fortified wines.
Different varieties of fortified wines are: