Besides Port, what other wines are fortified?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I know that only fortified wines from Portugal’s Douro Valley can be labeled "Port.” What other wines are fortified?

—Donn, Victoria, B.C.

Dear Donn,

You’re correct that most producers respect the fact that genuine Port comes from Portugal's Douro Valley, just as true Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. But many other wine-producing regions have borrowed the term to refer to their own fortified wines. For example, South African versions are sometimes called “Cape Ports” and Australia is known for their tawnies, a style that originated in Portugal.

When we say a wine is “fortified,” we mean that a spirit like neutral, clear brandy has been added to it. Originally, in the 17th century, wine was fortified as a way to stabilize it during overseas shipping. Other fortified beverages include Marsala, Sherry, Madeira and Vermouth. But if you’ve developed a taste for the sweet richness of Port, you can look for versions made in other parts of the world—it can be tricky to search for them as a group, especially if they aren’t using the term. I suspect that late-harvest red wines might be to your liking as well.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Fortified Wines Port

More In Dr. Vinny

How can I make sure my wine is at the right serving temperature?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers a few simple methods for accurate temperature …

Feb 22, 2021

Can a wine stored in ideal conditions outlast its recommended drink window?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains recommended drinking windows for aging wine.

Feb 15, 2021

Are new oak barrels toasted and filled with wine before they’re sold?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why barrels are toasted, and how a wine barrel's …

Feb 8, 2021

How do you open a bottle of wine that has a wax capsule?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how to deal with wax-topped wine bottles, …

Feb 1, 2021

Where do wine club wines come from?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where private label wines come from, and what …

Jan 25, 2021

What’s the difference between Brix, Baumé, Oechsle and residual sugar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why measuring sugar content in grapes is so …

Jan 18, 2021