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Introduction to Fortified Wines

Production Methods of Fortified Wines

Fortified wines are produced by adding grape spirit, usually brandy, to the fermenting wine. The addition of grape spirit stops the fermentation process by killing the yeast with its high alcohol content. This leaves behind some residual sugar, which results in a sweet wine.

There are two main methods of producing fortified wines: the "mutage" method and the "addition" method.

The mutage method involves adding grape spirit to the must (unfermented grape juice) before fermentation. This method results in a wine that is high in alcohol and sweetness, as the yeast is killed off before it has a chance to convert all of the sugar into alcohol. Port wine is an example of a fortified wine produced using the mutage method.

In the addition method, grape spirit is added to the wine after fermentation is complete. This allows the wine to develop more complex flavors and aromas before the grape spirit is added. Sherry is an example of a fortified wine produced using the addition method.

After the grape spirit is added, the wine is aged in oak barrels. The length of time and the type of oak used can have a significant impact on the final product. Some fortified wines are aged for decades, resulting in a complex and nuanced flavor profile.

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