Madeira is fortified wine that gets its name from the island of Madeira, which is a small and beautiful island in the Atlantic Ocean. The unique taste of the wine comes from repeated heating, which offers it flavors of stewed fruit, roasted nuts, toffee, and caramel.
In general, Madeira wine has two different types: Blended Madeira and Single-Varietal Madeira. Let us take a brief look on both the types.
These are inexpensive wines of average quality, but there are some higher end ones that can be great sipping wines. These usually differ in aging. The different styles of Blended Madeira include:
Finest Madeira – This isn’t the finest style of Madeira, but is a three-year-old one made from the grape Tinta Negra.
Rainwater Madeira – This is a fruity blend that is aged for at least three years before releasing, and is good for cooking or mixing in cocktails. Here too, the grape Tinta Negra is used.
Reserve – This term has different meanings in Madeira. Usually these wines are between five to ten years of age; whereas Special Reserves are ten to fifteen years old and make use of high quality wine making methods. Another type is Extra Reserve that is fifteen to twenty years old.
20 Year Old – This is a multi-vintage blend, incorporating wines of different age, proven by a panel to taste. There are also 30 Year Old and 40 Year Old Madeira wines that follow the same pattern.
Varietal Madeira is highest quality of Madeira wine. These are made as both single vintage wines and non-vintage blends that can be aged for centuries. The different styles of Varietal Madeira are:
Sercial – This is the brightest, most crispy Madeira. Sercial shows lemony, spicy herbaceous notes and some stony mineral character.
Verdelho – This is smokier and more concentrated than Sercial. This is one of the most flexible styles of Madeira.
Boal – Boal is sweet Madeira with an aromatic lift. This wine has notes of roasted coffee, bitter cacao, and salted caramel.
Malmsey – This is the sweetest and richest style of Madeira with most fruity, chocolate, and roasted nut notes of all Madeira styles.
Although it comes in a wide range of styles, dry notes of Madeira are the best when served chilled with starter courses. However, sweeter styles go magnificently well as after-dinner-sippers.
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