Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Moscatel de Setubal

Last week I was licking my lips after drinking Madeira, the nectar of the Gods, all week. Well, this week, I got to sip another Portuguese fortified wine, Moscatel de Setúbal and yet again, I am licking my lips. And that is why this lip-licking fortified wine made from at least 85 percent Muscat of Alexandria grapes is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Portugal is famous for a variety of fortified wines. Madeira comes from the island of Madeira, Port comes from the Douro Valley and Setúbal comes from the Setúbal Peninsula located in the southwest of Portugal.

Like other fortified wines, Moscatel de Setúbal is made by adding grape brandy to the wine when it has fermented to the required level of sweetness. But, what is unique about how Setúbal is made is that the grape skins are left in during fermentation as well as after the grape brandy is added for an additional three months. As winemaker Jaime Quendera of Cooperativa Agricola de Pegoes explained, the flavor of the wine is extracted from the skins. And when the grape brandy is added, it extracts even more flavor. Moscatel de Setúbal is then transferred to large wooden vats for a minimum of 18 months.

Moscatel de Setúbal has lots of sugar in it but the sweetness is balanced by the intense acidity. And, you do not taste the alcohol in the wine, even though it is between 17-19 percent. The wine typically has the aromas and flavors of honey, dried apricot, orange peel, raisins, caramel and nuts. It is lovely to sip on its own or pair with cheese.

And the best part of the delicious Moscatel de Setúbal is that if you find it in the US (which you can), it typically costs around $20, or less! That is all for a delicious fortified dessert wine!! Check out wine-searcher.com to find a Moscatel de Setúbal!

I think it is pretty clear why Moscatel de Setúbal is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

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