Friday Night: Madeira and its wines

No one should let life pass by without visiting the beautiful island of Madeira, situated in the blue waters of the sub-tropical Atlantic. It’s like a huge garden, full of picturesque towns, gardens and rugged largely unspoilt scenery. And get this- it’s very low in discothéques and other types of dance halls, beaches and all the other drawbacks which tend to attract families, and the -er- popular set, if you see what we mean. They all go to the Algarve, and good luck to them.

The drink of Madeira par excellence is the eponymous fortified wine. A mathematical set theorist would detain you for hours describing all the different combinations of brands and flavours. We advise you to check our links at [1] and [2] below for the details. But what you really need to know, gentle reader, is that it comes in four types: Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial. which describes a range from rich and sweet to nicely dry. Connoisseurs will often kick off a meal with a Sercial aperitif and finish off the cheese and nuts with a good Malvasia. A bit like Sherry and Port? Perhaps. But Madeira has its own history and flavour, and we earnestly advise acquiring a good bottle to sit alongside your decanters of fortified wines, just in case the Queen or Mr Biden drop by and are feeling thirsty.

Visitors to Madeira come by plane and boat, as it’s a particularly favourite stop off on the cruise circuit. All should enjoy a visit to the Madeira Wine Lodge in the middle of Funchal. After six Tours of Duty on the island, we know it well. It’s not just the tastings and all the presents in the gift shop. The building is made of ancient timbers and you can literally smell the curranty flavours of the maturing vintages as you walk round. A must for the sophisticated tourist of all nations.

UK residents can get a good Madeira in our better supermarkets such as Waitrose or a big Sainsbury. A good entry point might be a Blandy’s Malvasia aged at about five to ten years. Even when opened for a quick swig, it usually keeps for years. Sorry we can’t comment on outlets for our overseas chums.

So after dinner tonight, crack out your best cheddar and stilton, turn down the lights and enjoy the savour of this fine wine in the company of a loved one or old friends. And don’t overdo it-because that lovely dark bottle’s got spirits in it as well as wine. So you were warned.



#wine #madeira #portugal #aperitif

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