Fortified Wines

Here is some information on fortified wines (port and sherry) as discussed today on News @5 by Greg Rixen of Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop:

Ruby port is a younger port that exhibits many flavors of dried fruit such as raisins, prunes and plums. Along with the dried fruit you will often find flavors of mocha and coffee.

Tawny port is lighter and more delicate than ruby due to a longer ageing time in the cask.  Tawny ports have more caramel, nut and maple flavors with a lighter color due to the extended aging. Aged Tawny ports can be left in the cask for as long as 40 years before bottling!

Bottle aged ports see less time in casks, but age in the bottle over time developing rich and full flavors. Bottle aged ports are more similar in color and flavors to Ruby port, but are considered the best in the world! Here are some examples of bottle aged ports:

Late Bottle Vintage: made from a single vintage, bottled 4-6 years after harvest.

Vintage Character: Similar to Late Bottle Vintage, but is made from a blend of vintages from the better harvests of grapes.

Vintage Port: Aged two years in casks and will mature for many years in the bottle. Vintage ports are only made in the years where there is an exceptional harvest!

Fortified wines are wines that have had brandy added. The brandy is added to either stop fermentation and retain the sweetness of the wine or increase the alcohol content during or after fermentation. The increase in alcohol content helps preserve the wine and keeps it fresh longer. Fortified wines are more often referred to dessert wines. The two most common types of fortified wines are Port and Sherry. Here is a brief introduction to port and sherry!


Port originated in Portugal, originally named for the city of Oporto. Ports are now produced throughout the world including Australia and the United States. Ports can be broken down into two categories: cask-aged port or bottle aged port.

Cask aged:

Bottle aged:

**The biggest difference between cask aged and bottle aged is that cask aged ports are ready to drink as soon as they are bottled and will not mature in the bottle. Bottle aged ports will improve as they rest in the bottle. Some good Vintage Ports will age up to 30 years after the vintage date on the bottle.


Sherry is the second most recognizable fortified wine. Sherry originates from Spain and is quite different from port. With Sherry, the brandy is added after fermentation. Sherries are classified into five categories:

While the dry sherries are more popular in Spain, cream sherries are more popular in the United States. One of the most delicious cream sherries is Pedro Ximenez. Pedro Ximenez grapes are harvested and then dried for up to two weeks before making cream sherry. This drying concentrates the sugar and flavor of the grapes.  Pedro Ximenez has flavors of dark chocolate, molasses, cocoa and coffee.

Here are a few recommendations for you to get started!

Manzanilla-dry sherry

Fino-dry sherry

Amontillado-dry to medium dry

Oloroso-dry to medium dry




Taylor Fladgate Fine Ruby Port

Graham’s 10 year old Tawny Port

Osborne Sweet Oloroso Cream

Hartley & Gibson Pedro Ximenez

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  1. Pingback : Port & Sherry: A Quick Overview | BoozeNews

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