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What Is Fortified Wine?

  • 3 min read

Fortified wine is a delicious beverage that packs an extra alcoholic punch. After all, the word ‘fortify’ means to strengthen. But what is Fortified Wine, and how is Fortified Wine different from standard wine? We’ll answer this question and more below.

Definition of Fortified Wine

Fortified Wines are wines with a higher alcohol content due to being mixed with a distilled spirit such as brandy or cognac. The subsequent mixtures lead to a wine with a unique flavour and aroma that sets it apart from your average wine. What was once viewed as an adulteration of wine is now a popular and highly rewarding category of wine that is loved around the world.

How Is Fortified Wine Made?

Fortified wine was originally made to prevent spoilage by using a higher alcohol content. At various times during the fermentation process, distilled spirits are added, having a significant effect on the final product. Note: fermentation is the process in which yeast converts the sugar in grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Sweeter wine is made when spirits are added before fermentation is complete, whereas a dryer wine is made when it is added after.

How to Drink Fortified Wine

Fortified Wines are used for various reasons and are generally categorised as sweet or dry varieties. They are often used as aperitifs (before a meal) or digestifs (after a meal) to either stimulate appetite or aid in digestion. Some fortified wines are used in cooking, giving your meal a delicious flavour twist. 

Fortified wines can be consumed as is, or mixed in a cocktail. Sweet varieties are popular digestifs and pair well with desserts such as pudding and chocolate.  

Types of Fortified Wine

There is a wide spectrum of Fortified Wines, but can generally be divided into 6 types. These are:


Port is traditionally a sweet red wine that originated in Portugal but is now made in various locations around the world. It’s made by adding brandy before the fermentation process is completed and also includes some white, dry and semi-dry varietals. 


Sherry is a traditionally Spanish fortified wine and is made in which the brandy is added after fermentation, leading to generally dryer wines. 


Known as an aromatized fortified wine, Vermouth is flavoured with various botanicals such as roots, herbs, spices and flowers. Vermouth is popularly used in cocktails such as martinis and can be found in both dry and sweet flavours.  


Muscat refers more to a type of grape used for fortified wines in Australia. It is among the richest and most powerful wines in the world and is generally categorised as sweet and luscious, as well as flavours such as dried fruits, chocolate and espresso.


Madeira is a fortified white wine originating from Portugal. It is somewhat similar to Port and can come in dry to sweet varieties. Popular flavours include notes of caramel, toffee and stewed fruit. 


Marsala is made in the Sicilian region in Italy, made by adding brandy or a neutral grape spirit. Popular Marsala flavours include vanilla, stewed apricot, honey and brown sugar. 

How to Store Fortified Wine

Fortified Wines like Port have a much longer shelf life thanks to their much higher alcohol content compared to standard wine. Like all wines, they belong in cool, dark areas away from natural sunlight. We recommend using reliable Bespoke Wine Racks or Premium Wine Racks in a wine room or wine cellar, or a wine cabinet or wine fridge.

Click here for Wine Stash’s range of wine storage solutions to ensure your Fortified Wine is stored and aged under perfect conditions.

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