From Port to Sherry to Madeira and more, fortified wines as a category offer a vast range of diversity. Produced with the addition of distilled spirit to increase the alcohol level in the final wine, fortified wines can range in style quite dramatically, from dry and saline to luscious and rich. Made widely throughout the world, the process of fortification actually came about by means of necessity, rather than taste, as a way to preserve wines on long journeys across the sea.
Sherry, from the area in southern Spain surrounding the town of Jerez de la Frontera, is often thought to be one of the most diverse styles of wine in the world, ranging from the driest to the sweetest wines, and offers wine lovers a wealth of choice. Port, from the Douro Valley in Portugal, while always sweet, also offers many sub-categories. Other fortified wines like Madeira, from the Portuguese island of the same name, Marsala, from Sicily, and France's Vins Doux Naturels, among others, demonstrate that the power of terroir is real even when it comes to fortification, with each region putting its stamp on its own expression of fortified wines.