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ID number:776143
Published: 18.05.2004.
Language: English
Level: Secondary school
Literature: 4 units
References: Not used

A fortified wine means that brandy has been added into the wine during the production process, increasing the alcohol content generally from 6 to 8 %. Therefore the alcohol percentage is about 16 % or more in a fortified wine. The point in wine production when the brandy is added affects the style of fortified wine that is produced. I the brandy is added before fermentation the result is sweet wine with a high sugar content. If the brandy is added after fermentation the result is a dry wine. Sometimes fortified wines are flavoured with herbs, roots, spices and peels.
The most popular and well-known fortified wines are Sherry, Port, Madeira, Marsala and Vermouth. Fortified wines are often used in cooking, or they are served as aperitifs or dessert wines. Especially Madeira and Marsala are typically cooking wines, but several wineries produce suitable wine for drinking also.
Today fortified wines are usually consumed alone, often served as aperitifs, and in particular offered at the end of a meal instead of a brandy or liquor. These wines are also considered as meditation wines that are wines to be slowly sipped while contemplating the finesse and the quality of the product during tranquil and calm moments.
The glass in which they are generally served is small and suggest a limited and moderated consumption.

Colour The practice of fortification does not alter the colour of a wine because alcohol is crystalline and colorless. The only exception is represented by the use of brandy in wines having a pale color, a pretty rare practice, because fortification by using brandy is generally done

on dark colored wines or wines produced with red-berried grapes. Giving general indications about the color of fortified wines is therefore difficult and not useful: their colour exclusively depend on the one of the base wine, on the varieties of grapes used for its production as well as on processes and enological techniques done during the production, such as oxidation, frequent in many types of fortified wines. The colour of fortified wines is theoretically representable by every colour which is typical in any wine, from the pale straw yellow of Jerez Fino, up to dark and impenetrable purplish red of young vintage Ports.
Thanks to the presence of alcohol and to its preservative effects, fortified wines are particularly suited for long aging in bottle. Despite alcohol has a good preservative action for wine's organoleptic qualities, colour tends to change with time and it usually changes like in other wines. In fortified wines produced with white-berried grapes, the color tends to darken with time, from straw or golden yellow color to amber yellow with more or less intense hues. In wines produced with red berried grapes, such as Port, the color which is in youth pretty dark and impenetrable, tends to get lighter and to assume garnet red colors and, after a long aging, orange or brick red with evident sediments, just like in red wines. In some fortified wines, produced with particular techniques, it is possible to see pretty dark and deep colours, which could appear as impenetrable mahogany, such as in the case of Jerez Pedro Ximénez.

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