Madeira Flavors

WWMD: Madeira

What would Margaret drink?

Margaret Pearman is a certified sommelier under the Court of Master Sommeliers and is responsible for curating the award-winning wine list at Charlie’s Coastal Bistro. Here are her sipping suggestions for January:


Across the Atlantic, just off the coast of Portugal, lies the island of Madeira. Much like our island, the weather is temperate year-round, attracting visitors from around the world to enjoy its beautiful coast along with its flora and fauna. Because of its strategic location, visitors began passing through the island during the Age of Exploration, making it a major hub of exchange. Cargo ships introduced the island’s wine to the colonies of America, where the wine became wildly popular. 

Madeira is a fortified wine; meaning fermentation is stopped by the addition of spirits. Shippers found that collectors preferred the taste after the wine had been heated in the hull during voyage. It added depth of flavor and character. Winemakers began “baking” their wines in the hot sun, making Madeira the only wine that employs heat as a process. The Rare Wine Company set out to bring back quality vintage character Madeira during the early 2000s with its historic series. Collaborating with winery Vinhos Barbeito, the line illustrates the quality level as correlated to sweetness. Take a little sip of history before or after dinner.


1. Baltimore Rainwater: Slightly off dry, great served slightly chilled as an aperitif.  2. Charleston Sercial: Driest; pairs well with cheese, soup and nuts. 3. Savannah Verdelho: Slightly sweet with more citrus notes. This makes an excellent palette refresher after a meal. 4. Boston Bual: notably sweeter with more caramel notes 5. New York Malmsey: Dessert-level sweetness; perfect with chocolate, dark fruit and foie gras. 

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