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When we think of wine we usually think in terms of red or white, but there is another, almost forgotten, world of fortified and sweet wines.

Most fortified wines are a mixture of brandy and wine. As with most drinks in the wine world, there is historic reasoning behind this practice. Before modern transportation with its speed and controlled environment, wines had to be able to endure long journeys with extreme temperature fluctuations that threatened ruining the entire shipment in route. Knowing wines with high alcohol could survive this journey, producers began adding brandy to wines that would be traveling long distances.

The fortified wines most familiar are port and sherry. Port is fortified by adding the spirits before the wine has fully fermented, producing a sweet product. Sherry is fully fermented before the alcohol is added, resulting in a (comparatively) dry fortified wine.

Sherry can also be sweet. Sherry’s range stretches from bone dry Fino that is wonderful accompanied by a bowl of mixed nuts to intensely sweet Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry that is delicious drizzled over ice cream.


  • NV Osborne Sherry, Spain (about $14 retail)


  • 2010 LBV Taylor Fladgate Port, Portugal (about $26 retail)