Getting your geek on …

You can really get your geek on when it comes to learning about fortified wines! Port, Sherry and Madeira offer the wine student an opportunity to fill their boots with science and technology from the Maillard Reaction to mould development and the use of solar panels.

This was reflected in a batch of WSET assignments that I’ve just finished marking which asked students to write about Sweetening in Sherry, Maturation of Madeira and Fortification of Port. The answers were overall very good which suggested to me that the students had really enjoyed studying these subjects and had developed a detailed and accurate understanding of the 3 subjects. It was clear that some of them had even been to Spain and Portugal to see how the wines were actually made.

Some of the answers were so thorough with detail on parts of the production method or recent developments that I wasn’t aware of or had forgotten (it was a long time ago I did my WSET L4 exams!) that I constantly had to dip into my library of books or “ask Google” to help verify (or invalidate) facts!

Here are some of the most reliable resources I came across for learning about fortified wines:

Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson

The Wines of Madeira, Trevor Elliot

Understanding Wines: Explaining Style & Quality, an accompaniment to the WSET L3 Award in Wines

Court of Master Sommeliers

www.sherry.wine

www.sherrynotes.com

www.guildsomm.com

www.taylor.pt

Once you’ve looked through all the above resources why not have a go at the assignment? Write a 250 word paragraph on one or all of the following:

Sweetening in Sherry

Maturation of Madeira

Fortification of Port

… and see how you get on.

When you’re done why not try some practical study:

Fernando de Castilla Cream Sherry

Graham’s Tawny Port 20 yr old

Blandy’s Madeira Boal 15 yr old

Try and pick out the characteristics in the wine that have come from the winemaking you discussed in your mini essays.