Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Quick History of Madeira Wine...a strong and vigorous wine capable of a very long life

Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. The islands of Madeira are of oceanic climate with tropical influences. Some small amounts of Madeira is produced in small quantities in Crimea, California and Texas although those wines do not conform to the EU regulations. They are worth seeking though...

Now the islands of Madeira have a lengthy winemaking history, dating back way back to the Age of Exploration when Madeira was a standard port of call and stopping point for ships that were heading to the New World or East Indies.

So during that time It was discovered by the wine producers of Madeira that when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip. They wanted to be able to use it and
try to stop the wine from spoiling.

They figured that a neutral grape spirits could be added. So in doing so to try to conserve the wine.

It became apparent during the long sea voyages that the wines being exposed to extreme heat and movement transformed the flavor of the wine.

This wine being out in the open in temperatures up to as high as 60 °C /140 °F for an extended period of time deliberately exposes the wine to some levels of oxidation. It creates a strong and vigorous wine that can be capable of a very long life even after being opened like this.

...it can age decades to hundreds of years!

In the 16th century records show that a there was a viable wine industry on the island of Madeira that supplied ships with wine for the long voyages across the sea.

The wine was first unfortified and after spoiling at sea following the example of Port, and later Brandy in the 18th Century; a small amount of distilled alcohol made from sugar cane was added to stabilize the wine which boosted the alcohol content.

Madeira became very popular.It spread from the American colonies.

Madeira was an key wine in the history of the United States because at the time no wine-quality grapes could be grown amongst the 13 colonies, so imports were needed.

Madeira also shipped to Brazil in the New World to Great Britain, Russia, and also Northern Africa in substantial quantities.

As it is now known…According to the Oxford Companion to Wine; Madeira was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and also John Hancock; it was used to salute the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams are also said be fans of Madeira.

Madeira is produced in an assortment of styles ranging from dry wines that can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines that are usually consumed with dessert. The essential four major grape varieties used for Madeira production are (from sweetest to driest) Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial.

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