Fortified Wine

Fortified Wine
These are wines that have been fortified with brandy and sometimes flavored with herbs, roots, peels, and spices. The most popular examples are sherry, Madeira, Marsala, port, and vermouth. Fortifie
dry vermouth
dry vermouth
Dry means "not sweet", and this popular style of vermouth is used to make many cocktails, including the martini.
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Fortified Wine
Fortified Wine
These are wines that have been fortified with brandy and sometimes flavored with herbs, roots, peels, and spices. The most popular examples are sherry, Madeira, Marsala, port, and vermouth. Fortified wines are often used in cooking, or they're served as apéritifs or dessert wines.
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Madeira
Madeira
This fortified wine is named for its birthplace, an island off the coast of Africa. Madeira wines first became popular back in the days of cross-Atlantic sailing ships, because they were able to survive long, hot trips in rolling ships. And they didn't just survive, they actually improved, so much so that sending them off on long round-trip sea voyages eventually became an integral part of their production, though the practice has since been abandoned. Madeiras are used both for cooking, and as after-dinner drinks. Varieties of Madeira (in order from driest to sweetest) include the Sercial Madeira, Rainwater Madeira, Verdelho Madeira, Bual Madeira = Boal Madeira, and Malvasia Madeira = Malmsey Madeira. "Reserve" Madeiras are aged at least five years, "special reserve" for at least ten, and "extra reserve" for at least fifteen. Madeiras from Portugal are considered to be far superior to domestic brands. Once opened, Madeira should be consumed within a week or so and stored in the refrigerator.
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Marsala
Marsala
This popular Sicilian fortified wine is Italy's answer to sherry and Madeira. It's mostly used as a cooking wine and is a key ingredient in many Italian dishes, including zabaglione, tiramisu, and veal scaloppini. Marsalas are graded according to their sweetness and age. The sweetest Marsalas are called "dolce," followed by "demisecco," and then "secco," which are the driest. Ranked from youngest to oldest, the age grades are "fine," "superiore," "superiore riserva," "vergine," and "stravecchio."
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port
port
This is a sweet Portuguese fortified wine that's sipped as an after-dinner drink, or used as a cooking ingredient. Vintage ports are the best, but they are very expensive. The sediment at the bottom of the bottle is a sign of quality. Crusted or late-bottled vintage ports are both less expensive and less elegant. Cheaper yet are the lighter and fruitier wood ports, which include the tawny ports and the lowly ruby ports. Wood ports don't age well in the bottle, so try to drink them within a year or two of purchase. Once opened, port should be consumed within a week or so and stored in the refrigerator.
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sherry
sherry
This fortified Spanish wine is typically served in small glasses before dinner, but many cooks also keep a bottle handy in the kitchen to perk up sauces, soups, and desserts. There are two categories of sherry: fino and oloroso. Fino sherry = Palma sherry is dry, fruity, and expensive. Examples of fino include the exquisite Manzanilla and the potent and nutty Amontillado. Oloroso sherry is more heavily fortified than fino. Examples include Amoroso and cream sherry, both of which are sweetened and especially popular in Britain. Once bottled, sherry doesn't age well, so you should plan to use it no more than a year or two after you buy it. Once opened, fino sherries should be consumed within a few days and stored in the refrigerator. Oloroso sherries can be stored a bit longer, say a week. Cooking sherry usually has added salt, and is shunned by more experienced cooks.
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sweet vermouth
sweet vermouth
This comes as either red vermouth (rosso) or sweet white vermouth (bianco). It's used to make many cocktails, including Manhattans and Negronis. If you're planning to make martinis, you probably want dry vermouth.
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vermouth
vermouth
This is a fortified wine that's heavily flavored with sugar, herbs, roots, flowers, and spices. It's sometimes served as an apéritif, but it's better known as a key ingredient in many cocktails, including martinis and Manhattans. It's also used to perk up sauces, especially those that accompany seafood. There are two main types: dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. Noilly Prat and Martini & Rossi are well-respected brands.
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