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Where To Buy Madeira Wine

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Madeira Wine Substitutes You Need To Know

What is Madeira: One of the best sweet wines in the world!

Cooking with Madeira wine brings lots of flavour to the dish. Madeira wine is especially great for putting that extra something into a sauce or a stew.

That being said, Madeira wine is probably not always on the top of your mind when making a shopping list, so what to do if you dont have any? No worries. I will share my list of recommended madeira wine substitutes with you.

However, before I do, find out all there is to know about Madeira wine. This way youll understand the profile of this wine.

Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira

  • Country of Origin:Madeira, Portugal

Bartholomew Broadbent is often credited with Madeiras renaissance in the 1990s. While he doesnt produce wines himself, his label carefully selects some of the most refined specimens on the island.

Supple and surprisingly floral, his 10-year old Special Reserve Malmsey blend was produced by Juan Teixeira. It features rich notes or citrus with a deep and peppery finish. While about the same price as Blandys older Malmsey, it offers an equally refined experience.

Types Of Fortified Wine

Sherry: Fortified wine from Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalusia, Spain. More below.

Port: Port wine hails from Portugal, and specifically, the Duoro Valley. Grapes must be grown and processed in the region, and to become port, the wine is fortified with unaged brandy before fermentation is complete to yield a product with around 20 percent ABV. Port is most commonly rich and sweet, but a range of styles exist, including tawny port, ruby port, white port and rose port, amongst others.

Madeira: Madeira hails from Portugals Madeira Islands. The wine can range from dry to sweet, and is most notable for its aging process known as estufagem. This now mandated practice stems from Madeiras taste, which was once the result of Madeira barrels being shipped through tropical climates on lengthy voyages. Today, Madeira is made from a combination of heating and aging, along with oxidization and mild pasteurization. Madeira can be produced in two ways: either over a period of months with hot water tanks or steam, or naturally over a period of decades.

Marsala comes from Marsala, a city on the Italian island of Sicily. The wine is classified by age, color, and sweetness levels, as measured by grams of residual sugar per liter. Alcohol content ranges from 15 to 20 percent ABV, and styles run from dry aperitivos to sweet dessert-style wines.

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What Is Madeira Wine

Madeira is a fortified wine produced in the Portuguese islands of the Maderia. Interestingly, those islands are closer to Africa than they are to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. They’re among the most age-worthy, delicious fortified wines in the world, and because they’re produced in a range of styles, and from a number of different grape varieties, it’s easy to find a Madeira wine to suit practically any and every palate.

Where Did Madeira Wine Come From

Madeira Wine / Madeira Wine Festival In Funchal Stock ...

Madeira wine dates back to the age of discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries when sailors used to transport wine on ships during their long voyages.

The wine was transported in barrels and subject to temperature variations. On returning to the island, it was discovered that the wine actually tasted much more aromatic and flavourful than it had before it left.

From 1730 onwards, barrels of Madeira wine was deliberately sent on long voyages in order to bring out these qualities in the wine.

Read more about finding the best Portuguese wine here!

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How Long Does Madeira Last

While most bottles of wine can last years unopened, they will eventually break down. But due to its unusual heating and aging process, an unopened bottle of Madeira wine can last hundreds of years.

Even when you open it, Madeira can last for months and even years. Unlike other wines that will turn into a vinegary liquid after too much oxidation, Madeira doesn’t have that problem. Just make sure to store the wine properly in a cool, dark space away from heat.

Bottom line: The insane shelf life of Madeira makes it one of the best wine investments you can make. It can literally last a lifetime or longer.

Chicken And Beef Stock

You can also use chicken and beef stock as a substitute for Madeira wine in savory dishes. They have a slightly savory flavor and work as a base in various savory dishes like sauces, soups, and stews.

Use ½ cup of any stock as a substitute for ½ cup of Madeira wine. For a better flavor, you can add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice.

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How It The Madeira Wine Made Today

All grapes are first analysed, classified, weighed and processed to remove stalks, then crushed to remove the seeds and skins. Stalks are treated as waste but the seeds and skins are collected and used for agricultural feed.

Different vinification methods are used, according to the different grape varieties. The wine is then fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The rich wines are fortified after approximately 24-hours while the dry wines are left to ferment for 7 days before fortification.

The ageing is replicated with two modern methods: estufagem and canteiro.


A process introduced by a local physician, Pantaleão Fernandes, in 1794 that is only used with the Tinta Negra grape in the production of 3-year old wines. Once fortified, the wine is transferred to large tanks and slowly warmed up to temperatures of 45°C over four months. They are then stabilised in wooden vats for an extra two years.


This process ages wine in casks for a minimum period of 4 years, stored under the rafters of warm attics, where they are exposed to the natural warmth of the sun.

Wines produced using this system, are stored in casks by the variety name vintage year. The casks are never 100% full, allowing the wine to oxidise and transform the primary aromas into tertiary aromas known as the Madeira Bouquet of spices, roasted nuts, dried fruits, smoke, and more.

Cossart Gordon 15 Year Bual Madeira

What to Buy in Madeira | Muttonstyle
  • Country of Origin:Madeira, Portugal

As an alternative to Blandys Malmsey Extra Reserve, Cossart Gordon excels in showcasing the islands Bual grape variety. while it may have a slightly paler colour, you can expect a similar level of complexity with dried fruit, wood, and vanilla. However, you may also notice a subtle hint of almond in its luxuriously long finish.

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What Is A Fortified Wine

“I think the average consumer actually doesn’t understand what fortified wine is, or that fortified wine actually is a category,” laments Carrell. “They’re not aware that sherry and vermouth and port are fortified wines, they don’t really understand what it means to have distilled spirit added to a wine base.”

As Carrell indicates, by definition a fortified wine is a wine which has a distilled spirit added to it, to increase its alcohol content fortifying it. Theres a huge spectrum of fortified wines, and vermouth and sherry actually both qualify as separate types within this beverage category.

While the definition is easy enough, the trick is that every style of fortified wine has a series of specific regulations which make it distinct.

“If I had a Madeira or a port next to a sherry, each one is so identifiable as not the other,” says Chantal Tseng, co-owner of Washington, D.C.’s sherry bar Mockingbird Hill, and appropriately known to some as the sherry ninja or sherry queen. “They all stand out … and the nature of their production requires time, and a lot of complexity comes out of that.”

Vintage Madeira: The Long Road To Perfection

While the majority of Madeiras are blends of vintages and grape varieties, it is the Vintage Madeiras, and the now-vanishing Soleras, that are Madeiras claim to greatness. Vintage and Solera Madeiras are not simply a selection of the best wines from the best years, they are made from particular noble grape varieties after which the wines are named. These namesMalmsey, Bual, Verdelho, Sercialnot only describe a grape variety; they also describe a style, with Malmsey being the sweetest and richest and Sercial being the lightest and the driest.

There are other grape varieties whose names you may stumble across on old bottles of Madeira. Terrantez and Bastardo, in particular, are grapes that were widely grown up to the late 1800s and whose old wines can still be found on occasion. The virtual extinction of Terrantez and Bastardo grapevines in the late 1800s coincided with the decline of the Madeira trade and resulted from the same causes: two diseases of the vine, Oidium and Phylloxera, both of which also struck the vineyards of Europe, but in Madeira caused much greater, and more lasting, destruction.

Today, the worlds supply of old Vintage Madeira is negligible. However, those few examples that have survived from the 19th and early 20th centuries are among the worlds most majestic wines, possessing a richness and grandeur shared by only a few wines.

The Rare Wine Co. is today the best American source for older Madeiras.

– Steve Tanzer, International Wine Cellars

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Henriques & Henriques 5 Year Generoso

  • Country of Origin:Madeira, Portugal

A deep and nutty 5-year old blend, Henriques & Henriques Generoso opens with volatile citrus aromas of candied lemon and orange zest. Meanwhile, its heart offers delicate spices like cinnamon and clove, which is reminiscent of the festive season. Its long and somewhat acidic finish eventually reveals notes of walnut and roasted almond.

What Are Popular Brands Of Madeira Wine

Top 10 Best Madeira Wine To Buy Online

Blandy’s Madeira is a perennial favorite, as are Henriques & Henriques, Justino’s, Barbeito, D’Oliveiras, and the Rare Wine Company. Within each brand, it’s worth looking for everything from aperitif-perfect Rainwater Madeira and lighter Sercial and Verdelho Madeiras, to sweeter, richer bottlings of Bual and Malvasia.

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Is Madeira Wine Red Or White

Thats a really complicated question. Its actually neither, Madeira wine can be made from red or white grapes. In either case, most of the time its made using red grapes.

That doesnt mean that the wine is red though! Its actually golden-brownish in colour, depending on the age. So, when dealing with Madeira wine, dont think about the colour. Think about the flavour profile instead.

What Is The Good Substitute For Madeira Wine

As far as finding a Madeira wine substitute, some people like using Colheita Tawny Port or classic Tawny Port instead. Others find enough in common between Madeira and Sherry to use them interchangeably, though some argue that they don’t have quite enough in common to be swapped out with one another.

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How To Enjoy Madeira Wine

While we certainly don’t want you to feel hemmed in by any rules about the “proper” way to enjoy wine, there are some guidelines you can follow to help maximize your wine-drinking experience. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to savor Madeira wine, including the ideal temperature for serving, delicious food pairings, and even the kind of glass you may want to use. It’s time to pour, sip, and enjoy.

Visit Portugalmadeira Wine The Fortified Wine Born Off The Coast Of Africa

Mushroom Madeira Sauce

Madeira wine is a fortified wine produced and bottle in on the Portuguese Madeira islands, just off the east coast of Portugal . It is a type of wine that uses a specific grape variety, using unique techniques that have been passed through generations.

Read on to discover all you need to know about Madeira wine!

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How Is Madeira Wine Made

Despite all the options among Madeira wine brands, there is one primary methodwith three sub-techniquesfor the production of Madeira. Grapes are harvested, crushed, and then fermented. Wines that will ultimately become sweet Madeira are typically fermented in the presence of its skins, whereas wine for more dry styles of Madeira are usually fermented without them. Fermentation is stopped at a particular point, based on how much of the residual sugar remaining in the partially fermented grape juice they want to leave, by the addition of grape spirit or grape brandy. This increases the alcohol and kills off the yeast, which stops fermentation, leaving whatever level of natural sweetness the producer desires. From there, the wine undergoes a heating process that mimics the heating and cooling that the original Madeira wines went through on long sea voyages. There are three main methods of heating the winemechanically, with passive heat in the heating room, or natural, whereby the sun does all the work. Sun-aged Madeira wines can often possess the ability to age gracefully for over a century, and even today, it’s possible to drink Madeira wine from vintages before, say, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

What Is Aromatized Wine

While the about is a starting overview of fortified wine types, its crucial to remember that theres a huge range of sub-classifications and categories to explore. For example, vermouth itself actually belongs to a subcategory of fortified wine known as aromatized wine, which is defined as a fortified wine that has also been flavored with herbs, spices, or natural flavorings. Vermouth is generally split into dry and sweet categories, although theres a full spectrum in-between. More below.

Quinquina: Quinquinas are flavored with cinchona bark and its bitter quinine compound. Quinine is said to be the historical reason gin and tonics came about, as bitter anti-malarial treatments including quinine were mixed with gin by savvy patients. A prominent quinquina is Lillet Blanc.

Americano: Technically a further sub-class of quinquina, Americanos are flavored with gentian root and includes brands such as Cocchi Americano. Note that Americano refers to amer, as in the French word for bitter, not American.

Barolo Chinato: An Italian quinquina made with Barolo wine, plus a range of others herbs and spices.

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The Impact Of Cocktails

Recently, vermouth and sherry have made a comeback more so than any other fortified wine, and that resurgence is thanks in part to cocktail culture, and each wine’s historic connection to mixed drinks. Vermouth is a key component in many classic cocktails, while sherry is a key ingredient in some of the earliest cocktails.

Vermouth flavors several libations: martinis, Manhattans, and negronis, for starters. Today, increasingly, consumers don’t just order one of those classics, they order a specific spirit with a specific vermouth. There are Carpano Antica devotees, Dolin Rouge advocates, Cocchi Torino fans, and on down the sweet vermouth line. Then there are those who precisely pick a specific vermouth only for an application in a single cocktail.

As for sherry, “There’s a history here with sherry in cocktails,” Tseng explains. “The Sherry Cobbler being one of the first cocktails. Cocktails were invented by Americans and you have this drink that was being brought over with the discovery of America, which was sherry. So it was here as an ingredient.”

Sherry looms as even more unfamiliar territory to many people than vermouth, so sherry cocktails serve as a tool to help imbibers learn about the category as a whole. “It is definitely a great way to introduce people,” says Tseng. “The other way being with food. Sherry is wine at the end of the day, and it’s actually extremely versatile not only with cocktails, but with food pairings as well.”

Where To Buy Madeira Wine


Although Madeira wine experienced something of a renaissance in the late 20th century, it has never managed to reclaim its title as the USAs favourite wine. Indeed, it was once the only wine that could travel to America and a favourite of both Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock.

Today, buying Madeira wine in the USA is, quite frankly, a frustrating task. Most Madeira that youll find in supermarkets or convenience stores is made for cooking. And while you can certainly cook with drinking Madeira, we wouldnt recommend it the other way around!

You may occasionally be lucky to find a bottle in a local wine shop and there are some passionate merchants that may even sell several. Nevertheless, your luck may greatly depend on where you live. After all, it has become something of a speciality wine, to say the least.

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Different Types Of Madeira Wine

Madeira is mostly made with red grapes although white grapes are also common. Either way, the grape color isn’t of much consequence since Madeira gains an amber or toffee-like color through its heating and oxidation process.

While all Madeira wines have high acidity levels, they have different levels of sweetness and types of flavor. Here are the main types you’ll come across and examples for each.

  • Dry . This is the driest, crispest, and freshest-tasting style. An example is Sercial.
  • Medium-Dry : This flavor is slightly spicy, smoky, and caramel-like. One example is Verdelho.
  • Medium-Sweet : Lightly sweet with flavors of burnt caramel, coffee, cacao, and raisins. An example of this Madeira wine isBual.
  • Sweet : Thesweetest style with rich chocolate notes, the Malvasia fits in this category.

Note: Tinta Negra Mole grapes are used to make all varieties of Madeira wine, so check the label to know which level of sweetness youre getting.

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