You have certainly heard a lot about Madeira wine. Famous in cooking, it is the wine used in the also famous Madeira sauce.
What is Madeira wine?
Madeira Wine is a fortified wine with a high alcohol content. It is aged with heat, and produced in the region with the Denomination of Origin of Madeira from about 5 different types of grapes.
It reaches the market in different levels of sugar from soft to dry, being classified as: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet or Sweet, all marked by their high levels of acidity.
This sharp acidity is the direct result of its location: an archipelago, just off the northwest coast of Morocco, composed of two inhabited islands – Madeira and Porto Santo, in addition to two of them uninhabited, called Deserta and Selvagem.
All Madeira wine is produced on 500 hectares of volcanic soil, located mainly on the north coast of the island, it is there that the vineyards sway precariously on gravity-defying slopes.
They are true giant stairs and each step, the Portuguese call “poios”. The only way to harvest, of course, is by hand.
For irrigation, on the other hand, water is historically captured from the highest parts of the island (about 1800 meters high) and channeled through 2150 km of artificial channels called “levadas” – many of which date from the 16th century.
Which grape is Madeira wine made from?
About 90% of the total production of Madeira wine is made using the Tinta Negra variety, while the other 10% are divided between Sercial, Boal, Verdelho and Malvasia, and are chosen for the elaboration of fine labels.
The latter give simpler Madeira wines. They are aged on a bed. The so-called “Canteiros” are wooden structures that allow the wine barrels to be as high as possible, closer to the shingles of the warehouses, catching more heat. This happens for at least 2 years.
It is this process that brings unique characteristics and intense and complex aromas to this type of simpler Madeira Wine. They can only be marketed 3 years after the 1st of January of the harvest year.
How to make Madeira wine sauce?
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cup of water
1 cup of dry wine
Salt and pepper
Reserve 5 tablespoons of water to dilute theCorn Starch.
In a medium saucepan, bring the butter to the heat and add the onion and sauté, until it is lightly browned. Add the rest of the water and the meat broth. Add the Worcestershire sauce and mix. Add the previously dissolved the Corn Starch and the wine. Over medium heat, cook, stirring constantly, until boiling. Leave for 4 or 5 minutes or until creamy. Serve while still hot, accompanied by the meat of your choice.
To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape distillates, vinyl alcohol (almost a grape cachaça, were added). This was because in the long sea voyages, the wines were exposed to excessive heat, along with the balance of the sea, they changed their taste. Madeira wine producers discovered this fact when a shipment not accepted by buyers returned to the island after a trip and return. Today this fact has made the product an icon of the place, exactly for this characteristic discovered unintentionally.