18 Questions People Are Asking About Madeira Wine

People always ask me questions like which Madeira Wine is the best, or what is a Madeira Wine substitute, as well as other questions. These are tricky questions because I have spent my whole life in Madeira, but I still feel I haven’t learned everything about Madeira Wine.

I have already written a post about Madeira wine, which you can read HERE, so now I want to dedicate a blog post to the most common questions. I hope you find it helpful and help you choose the wine style that suits you, not to mention the excitement of tasting it someday.

  1. Is Madeira wine red or white?
  2. What is the Madeira wine alcohol content?
  3. How long does Madeira Wine last?
  4. How long does Madeira wine last once open?
  5. Does Madeira age in the bottle?
  6. How do you store Madeira Wine?
  7. How many are Madeira Wine glasses in a bottle?
  8. How to drink Madera wine?
  9. Pairing Madeira with food
  10. Madeira wine tasting: What does Madeira Wine taste like?
  11. Madeira wine calories
  12. Madeira Wine in cooking: What kind of Madeira wine is best for cooking?
  13. What is Madeira sauce made of?
  14. What is Madeira Wine substitute?
  15. What is the best Madeira Wine? Where to buy Madeira Wine?
  16. How much does Madeira wine cost?
  17. Madeira wine vs Port
  18. Madeira wine vs Marsala: What’s the difference between Madeira Wine and Marsala wine?

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1. Is Madeira wine red or white?

Madeira wine is both white and red. Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, Malvasia and Terrantez are made from white grapes and Tinta Negra Mole is from red grapes.

2. What is the Madeira wine alcohol content?

We fortify Madeira wines with wine alcohol during the fermentation process to increase the alcohol content to 17-20% ABV.

3. How long does Madeira Wine last?

Madeira can be the longest-lived wine in the world because it’s oxidised, fortified, and aged at high temperatures. It’s virtually indestructible, and we can preserve an unopened bottle of Madeira wine for many years or centuries.

Even if you open it, you can keep Madeira for months or even years.

4. How long does Madeira wine last once open?

“Fine Madeira wine once opened comes to no harm, even if we leave the bottle on ullage for months, even for years on end” — Richard Mayson.

However, an ordinary wine (aged three years) can keep the best quality within a year after opening, while we can store a vintage for longer, even years.

5. Does Madeira age in the bottle?

Most wines are bottled and ready to drink and will not improve with age. A bottle of Madeira bought today will continue to mature on the shelf tomorrow, increasing in value every year.

Vintage Madeira wines will become full-bodied within the first two years after bottling.

Does Madeira age in the bottle? How do you store Madeira Wine?

6. How do you store Madeira Wine?

A bottle of Madeira wine should be stored upright, away from direct sunlight, and in a place without significant temperature variations.

In addition, the wine needs re-corking every twenty or thirty years.

7. How many are Madeira Wine glasses in a bottle?

Although a standard bottle of red wine (750 ml) is likely to contain five glasses, this is not always the case for high-alcohol wines, such as dessert wines, usually held in small bottles (375 ml).

Fortified wines, such as Madeira wine, have an alcohol content of up to 20%, so we should serve them in smaller volumes and smaller glasses — about eight glasses per bottle.

Madeira wine glass is tulip-shaped with a short handle and a small but bulbous bowl that tapers toward the edge.

8. How to drink Madera wine?

Madeira wine, Portugal, is produced in a variety of styles, from dry to sweet wines.

We recommend that the dry and medium-dry types be served slightly chilled (12 °C) while the medium and sweet types at room temperature (14-16 °C).

The wines are incredibly versatile; they can be consumed alone as an appetiser, paired with various dishes, or served as a delightful after-dinner wine with dessert. As a rule of thumb, dry wines (such as Sercial and Verdelho) are served as appetisers with starter courses, while sweet wines (such as Malmsey and Bual) are digestive with dessert.

As ordinary Madeira has no sediment, we don’t need to decant it, but the old wines should be decanted, ideally one day before serving.

A thin, plain, uncoloured glass is the best choice to show the wine’s colour and richness.

9. Pairing Madeira with food

Most people consider Madeira an after-dinner wine, but its diverse styles and high acidity make it a great pair with food.

Madeira wines go well with cheese, nuts, game, and mushrooms. Bual and Malvasia’s sweet wines pair perfectly with chocolate, cakes, and puddings.

10. Madeira wine tasting: What does Madeira Wine taste like?

Madeira’s taste is different from any other fortified wine. It is full of vitality because of up to 20% of alcohol and excellent acidity.

The unique taste of Madeira comes from the heating of the wine, which gives the fascinating flavours of dried fruits (nuts, hazelnuts, figs, raisins, etc.), vanilla, wood, orange zest, spices, chocolate, coffee, caramel and honey.

11. Madeira wine calories

Madeira wine nutritional information: Grapes are composed of three-quarters water and one-quarter sugar.

Red wine is the healthiest wine and has more antioxidants than other varieties. That’s because they do not remove the grape skins during the fermentation process. The antioxidants provided by dark skin, such as Procyanidins, are linked to health benefits, including heart disease protection and longevity.

12. Madeira wines in cooking: What kind of Madeira wine is best for cooking?

You can use all Madeira Wine brands for cooking.

However, Madeira has dry and sweet varieties, and the types usually used in cooking are dry. It is suitable for red and white meat, but will produce a darker sauce. We also recommend a reserve wine aged for at least five years or three years.

13. What is Madeira sauce made of?

Sauce Madère is a demi-glace sauce with Madeira wine. The sauce is made by sautéing shallots and mushrooms in butter, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and Madeira Wine.

Other Madeira Wine recipes:

Madeira Wine sauce recipe for baked ham:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter gently in a saucepan.
  2. Stir with 1 tablespoonful of flour.
  3. Once the foam has formed, stir in the 145 ml of meat or vegetable stock and 145 ml of Madeira wine, and heat until boiling.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Continue to cook for a few seconds, and then serve over baked ham.

14. What is Madeira Wine substitute?

If you cannot find Madeira Wine near you and need a Madeira wine alternative for cooking, the best choice is other fortified wines. Port and Marsala may be the best alternatives. Other popular Madeira wine replacements are sherry and vermouth.

15. What is the best Madeira Wine? Where to buy Madeira Wine?

The single years are better than the mixes, and it’s much better to buy in the cellars instead of supermarkets. When in doubt, always buy bottles ten years old or older. Single Harvest Madeira or Colheita Madeira are good options.

There are seven Madeira Wine producers and Madeira Wine brands:

  • Artur de Barros e Sousa
  • H.M. Borges, Sucrs.
  • Henriques & Henriques
  • Madeira Wine Company or Madeira Wine Lodge or Blandy Madeira
  • Pereira D’Oliveiras (Vinhos) Lda.
  • Vinhos Barbeito (Madeira)
  • Vinhos Justino Henriques, Filhos

How much does Madeira Wine cost?

16. How much does Madeira wine cost?

Madeira wine prices can range from €8 (3 years) and thousands of euros. Bottles of old Terrantez Madeira are precious, and the most expensive Madeira Wine bottle and the most aged wine ever auctioned by Christie’s was Terrantez from 1715, sold for €24 000.

17. Madeira wine vs Port

We produce both fortified wines in Portugal, but in different regions. Port wine comes from the Douro Valley and Madeira, from the beautiful subtropical island of Madeira.

Both wines go through the same process. However, what winemakers try to avoid in every other wine region, Madeira wine producers don’t.

What differs from any other wine in the world is the ageing process. Winemakers heat the wine and cool it deliberately throughout the ageing process, exposing it to oxygen (a taboo in winemaking) – This results in the wine often evaporating.

We store Port wine horizontally and Madeira wine vertically (upright).

Port wine should be consumed within a month, and Madeira wine, within a year or longer.

18. Madeira wine vs Marsala: What’s the difference between Madeira wine and Marsala wine?

We often confuse Madeira and Marsala because their names, tastes, and usage are almost similar.

These are fortified wines with high alcohol content (15%-20 ABV), with styles ranging from dry to sweet, with similar flavours such as nuts, brown sugar, honey and dried fruits.

The significant differences are:

Origin-Both wines come from small islands in the southern part of the European continent: Madeira wine is from Madeira, Portugal, and Marsala is from Sicily, Italy.

Marsala’s winemaking process is more straightforward – it doesn’t go through oxidization or heating, like Madeira.

Grape varieties are different.

Ageing – Madeira wines will age longer.

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Above all, I hope you found this list of questions inspirational. Writing this post has inspired me to open a bottle of Madeira Wine and enjoy its unique flavour.

You can find the information HERE if you’re up for a themed-guided food and wine tour. These tours are fun to discover the best of Madeira’s gastronomy and wines.

If you have more questions, you can ask them in the comments below.


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