The Cellar: The Wonders of Madeira Wine
Friday, January 31, 2014
Madeira wines are made on the island of Madeira, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 600 miles southwest of Portugal. Madeira’s winemaking history dates back to the 1450’s and the exploration of the New World. Back then wines from Madeira were already very popular and highly sought-after, both in Europe and later here in the Americas. It is said that Madeira was the preferred wine of many of our founding fathers; that is was a bottle of Madeira that was passed around after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and that it was served at George Washington’s inauguration.
Unlike Any Other
The four principle grape varieties that make the best Madeira wines are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey. Look for these names as a good bottle of Madeira almost always displays the grape it is made from. If the bottle simply says ‘Madeira’ chances are that the wine is made from a lesser, high-yielding grape variety called Tinta Negra Mole. All Madeira wines start their life similarly to most other wines, but they are fortified with neutral grape spirits at differing points of fermentation, depending on the grape variety used and the level of sweetness the winemaker wishes to achieve. Sercials are almost always dry, which means that it is fortified after fermentation when all the sugars already have been converted into alcohol. Malmseys, on the other hand, are fortified much sooner, before all the sugars are converted, leaving residual sugars in the wine resulting in a sweeter wine.
I could go on forever as there is so much more to Madeira than you might think. Please, if you haven’t done so already, give Madeira a chance. Cheers!
Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.
Related Slideshow: 10 New England Wine Getaways
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Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton is much more than just a winery—it is a place to get away from the stresses of life and indulge your senses, a place to try new things, a place to focus on you. The vineyard is open every day, and invites you to come for a tasting and tour. Try their Petite Red, Vidal Blanc, and many more of their distinctive wines.
162 W Main Road, Little Compton, RI. (401) 635-8486.
Visit Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth to sample their estate grown and produced wine, made in small batches. While at the estate, try seven different wines and keep the wine glass for only $12. While you are tasting, take in the gorgeous views of both the vineyard and river. Besides tasting the wines, Greenvale also invites customers to tour the winery and learn about the history and process of winemaking at the vineyard.
582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI. (401) 847-3777.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards
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825 Colonel Ledyard Highway, Ledyard, CT. (860) 464-2987.
Nickle Creek Vineyards
Nickle Creek Vineyard is a family owned and operated Rhode Island wine treasure. The winery, located in Foster, makes it their mission to handcraft the most unique, high quality wines in the business. All wines are created in small batches, giving them a distinctly unique taste. This weekend, visit their tasting room to try their variety of wines. On your way out, be sure to pick up a bottle of Foster Nights to get you through those chilly New England evenings.
12 King Road, Foster, RI. (401) 369-3694.
Nashoba Valley Winery
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100 Wattaquadock Hill Road, Bolton, MA. (978) 779-5521.
Bishop’s Orchards Winery
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1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT. (203) 453-2338.
Diamond Hill Vineyards
For a cool twist on classic wine labels, look no further than Diamond Hill Vineyard in Cumberland. At Diamond Hill, you can get custom designed wine labels perfect for any occasion. If you’re interested in tasting the wines, visit their elegant tasting room for samples of their high quality wines such as Cranberry Apple, Estate Pinot Noir, or Blackberry.
3145 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI. (401) 333-2751.
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417 Hixbridge Rd, Westport, MA. (508) 636-3423.
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760 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. (774) 929-6534.
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