February 10, 2016
A fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled alcohol, usually brandy, has been added during or right after the fermentation process.
Perhaps the three best known fortified wines are Port (Portugal), Marsala (Italy), and Sherry (Spain). Most of them come with varying degrees of sweetness, but typically Port and Marsala tend on the sweet side and are considered dessert wines, while Sherry Is more on the dry side and serves as an apéritif.
In a nutshell, here is what happens:
The wine fermentation process is essentially yeast converting sugar to alcohol. If you add alcohol to or above 15% the yeast dies and the fermentation process stops. The sooner the alcohol is added in the fermentation process, the sweeter the fortified wine will be because much of the sugar is still present. Conversely if the sugar is added near the end or after the fermentation, then most sugar has been converted to alcohol and the resulting fortified wine will be dry.
Personally I am not a fan of dessert wines, but I do like a good Veal Marsala.
As far as apéritifs is concerned I like an occasional Gin Martini with just a few drops of Dry Vermouth (also a kind of fortified wine), but tonight I am going to enjoy a glass of Tio Pepe Dry Sherry on the rocks before dinner.
Date: February 15, 2016
By: NHWM, Manchester, NH