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Fortified Wine to Explore This Season


Fortified wines are popping up on restaurant menus all over the place. Not only are they a delicious aperitif wine, but they are also a great dessert wine option also.

But it’s probably something you’ve never heard of. So read on to find out why I think you need to explore fortified wines! If you’re a wine lover, you need to check them out!

Top view of fortified wine in glass with a piece of orange peel.
Here’s what you need to know about fortified wines.

What is fortified wine?

Fortified wine might not be something that you have ever heard of. But if you start looking, I bet you’ll start to see it show up in food magazines and restaurants.

Fortified wine is wine that has a spirit added to it, usually brandy, to stabilize it.

While they are starting to regain popularity at restaurants, fortified wines can be traced back to explorers looking for a new world (America).

Related: 5 Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand

Regular wine would go bad after a time, but by adding brandy or another liquor, it kept the wine from spoiling.

The flavor is complex. And I love it! And drinking it feels very Three’s Company, Mrs. Roper 70’s.

How do you drink fortified wine

They are great tasting on their own, but fortified wines can also be mixed into simple cocktails.

And because of the fuller flavor, they make a great cooking wine. If you like Sherry, you like fortified wine!

And you’ll like my Sherry Wine Cake whether you like wine or not…

Menu from restaurant with a list of fortified wines to order.

What is a good fortified wine to try

On a girlfriend getaway to Palm Springs, my bestie and I had dinner at the new Kimpton Rowan hotel downtown.

Their rooftop restaurant, 4 Saints, has gorgeous views and a cocktail menu with several fortified wine options.

We tried two of the wines listed as a pre-dinner drink (or an aperitif) and loved them!

They served it simply, over a large ice cube, with a citrus twist. It was refreshing and so full of flavor.

While they have a touch of sweetness, the ones we tried were not as sweet as most cocktails end up being.

It had a light wine flavor mixed with caramel notes and spices (which is also what aromatized means – the addition of flavors and spices, in case you read the top of the menu and were like, what is THAT?).

When I got home from the trip, I headed to my local Total Wine store and started asking about fortified wines.

And no one knew what I was talking about. So instead, I pulled out the photo above and tried to find one to buy myself.

Some of the other brands listed on the menu can be bought online but I have no patience and wanted it right then.

Noilly Prat bottle on table.

I found this Noilly Prat (a vermouth) but none of the other brands listed on the menu.

I guess I never knew what vermouth was before but I’ve always skipped a martini because I didn’t think I’d like the flavor.

But this vermouth is delicious! I will absolutely be trying a martini with this.

And vermouth is a fortified wine. Who knew!

Close up of wine in a stemless wine glass with a piece of orange peel.

A portion of fortified wine is usually less than a normal wine pour.

When I want this at home, I add 2-3 ounces to a cocktail shaker and shake quickly with ice before straining into a short glass.

I add a bit of citrus peel and that’s it. It’s so flavorful.

It has brightness, but none of the fruitiness of white wine. It reminds me of spiced rum because of the spice notes. But it’s super easy to sip.

You can also add some club soda to it although I haven’t tried it that way yet. But due to the layers of flavor, I think it would remind me of Bitters and Soda!

Fortified wine, shaker, Noilly Prat on table.

My first experience with fortified wines was over a year ago but I’m just getting around to sharing this post!

And in the meantime, I’ve found Haus aperitif wines that are also fortified wines and come in a variety of flavors. They are my favorite fortified wines (but they are currently on hold) and I think you need to check them out!

I am not an expert but if you want more information you can check out Eater’s Exhaustive Guide to Fortified Wines.

Fortified wines are full of flavor and easy to sip. If you love wine but want to step outside the box, you need to check one of these aromatic wines out.

All I can tell you is that I love the flavor and it’s great for when you want to sip something that isn’t straight-up wine.

I’d love to hear if you see fortified wines on a restaurant menu! I’m always looking for new brands and ways to serve them!

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