The world of wine is beautifully diverse. So diverse, in fact, that it’s virtually impossible to ever taste – let alone understand – everything. Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine, and other diehard professionals spend their entire careers at it and may not come close. Where, then, does that leave the average wine lover?
Unless you’re a wine professional dedicating every working (and waking) hour to learning about and tasting different wines, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. There’s simply too many options, so you’ll have to make choices and narrow down what you drink. This doesn’t mean that you can’t explore, though. Quite the opposite, in fact: it’s all the more reason to explore and to try something different! Too many wine lovers stick to the same few tried and tested grapes or regions, and consequently miss out on that big wide wine world. If that sounds familiar, then now is the time for a change, and to try something new.
Today, we’re going to try to convince you to leave the Bordeaux, Rioja and Champagne to one side and go for something completely different: Fortified wine.
Three reasons to drink more fortified wine
There are a whole lot of reasons not to drink fortified wine, most of which are built upon misconceptions and age-old stereotypes of old women drinking sickly sweet cream Sherry at Christmas. It’s too alcoholic, it’s too sweet, it’s too expensive. So on and so forth. These are outdated and inaccurate, so let’s forget about them and instead focus on three good reasons why you should work more fortified wine into your repertoire.
- There’s so much variation. Many people think that all fortified wines are extremely sweet, extremely alcoholic, and not much else. This is flagrantly not true. Even within the two most popular categories of fortified wines – Sherry and Port – there is a wide range of styles ranging from bone dry to lusciously sweet. That is not to forget other great wines and regions such as Montilla-Moriles, Madeira, Marsala, Rutherglen and French Vins Doux Naturels. Fortified wine is a vast universe within itself, one that is dying to be explored and that will certainly reward the adventurous new wine lover.
- You are drinking history. Many wine regions have colourful and storied histories: The old world of wine reflects many centuries of European history, and many older wineries have fascinating stories. This is the case in Port and Sherry, among other regions. Vintage Port has an exceptionally long life and is literally like drinking history. Many solera systems used in Sherry production date back almost a century or more, such as El Tresillo 1874 Amontillado Viejo.
- Fortified wine loves food. Whether as a food pairing or cooking with fortified wine, these wines are very food friendly indeed. Sweet Sherries and Ports are perfect dessert wines, equally at home with sweet desserts and with ripe aged cheese. Dry and medium Sherries are highly versatile with Spanish mixed plates such as tapas and pintxos. Cream Sherry is an incredibly useful cook’s ingredient, in everything from soups and tapas to rich and sweet desserts.
What do you think of fortified wine? Do you have any other reasons to convince a fellow wine lover to try more Port, Sherry or Madeira?