Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Diversity of Madeira Wine

I spent the past week drinking Madeira wines and I am still licking my lips. If you have not had Madeira, it is time to try it. It is not like any other wine you have ever had. And that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Madeira is a fortified wine, in which a neutral grape spirit is added. But, Madeira is also heated and oxidized, two things that we are always taught should never be done to wine. But, Madeira is the result of a centuries-old history. In the 1600s and 1700s, the wine was fortified in order to survive traveling on the sea. As the ships sailed through the tropics, the wine would be heated and cooled repeatedly, as well as exposed to oxygen. And that is how Madeira came to be.

There are four main styles of Madeira which are related to the four best known grapes – Dry (Sercial) , Medium Dry (Verdelho), Medium Sweet (Boal) and Sweet (Malvasia). From dry to sweet, Madeira has very high acidity. Madeira can be paired with many types of food, even some dishes that do not work with other wines, such as vinegar and spice. And, at a seminar at the San Francisco Wine School this past week, we enjoyed a variety of dishes with different styles of Madeira.

Madeira Vintners “Fenix” Seco 2012 was paired with Endive stuffed with burrata, nuts and dried fruit.

Henriques & Henriques Sercial 10 Years Old was paired with a Curry Chicken Samosa

Blandy’s Verdelho 10 Years Old was paired with a Wild Mushroom Galette topped with Brie Fondue

Pereira D’Oliveira Boal 1993 was paired with Lamb Kafta with Ras El Hanout Sauce

Barbeito Historic Series Boston Bual Special Reserve was paired with Five Spice Duck Confit Pot Sticker w/Plum Sauce

Justino’s Broadbent Malmsey 10 Years Old was paired with Chocolate Caramel Tart

So many different flavors and yet there was a Madeira for each one. Madeira is diverse, interesting and just plain delicious and that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.