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Mar 25, 2003 06:22 PM

Looking for information on Madeira

  • d

Hi all --

Recently I was at AOC, a restaurant in Los Angeles with a great wine list, and we tried a 10 year old Madeira with our desert. I loved it (unfortunately I don't recall the winemaker) but I am now intrigued to learn about and sample more Madeiras. Interestingly, Madeira does not appear to be a popular wine selection at most shops I've been to in the LA area--so I may end up shopping over the internet.

I'm looking for recommendations as to a good starting point for a Madeira novice, and also any good suggestions as to whether you know of any good websites to shop for/learn more about Madeira. I am not in the position to spend loads of money, but would be willing to spend up to $40 or $50 if necessary.


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  1. Madeira is wonderful. You can find at The Wine House or Du Vin in Los Angeles. You can spend $40 or $50 for a fine aged bottle but you don't need to. Madeira is much less expensive then a similarly aged, fine Port. You can easily spend $10 or $15 and find something wonderful. It is inexpensive because demand is low.

    The next time you are at AOC splurge and try a glass of oldest available, a twenty or thirty year old. The character of the wine is completely transformed. We tried it next to the 10 year old and were amazed at the difference.


    4 Replies
    1. re: JudiAU

      Thanks for the response! I had checked the online "inventory" at Wine House and it seemed like they only had one selection, but I'm going to be there over the weekend and so will check it out. I'd forgotten about Du Vin -- thanks for reminding me :-)

      1. re: DanaB

        I have an embarrassing question -- I've seen that this is referred to as an aperitif. Does this mean that this should only be drunk before a meal, or after? Is it not traditionally drunk alone, or always in conjunction with a meal.

        Any history or usage of this beverage would be interesting to me. It might be something I want to learn about.

        1. re: Mrs. Smith

          I'm certainly no expert, which is why I asked the question in the first place, but when I recently had it, it was served as a dessert wine -- it really didn't taste anything like other desert wines I'd had -- almost had a honey flavor, very delicious. I think it depends upon the variety you get as to whether it's served as an aperitif or with dessert, as they range from dry to sweet. The pages linked by JudiAU and estufarian above have some really good information on Madeira.

          1. re: Mrs. Smith

            Madeira wine comes in a range of styles, from dry to very sweet. So, you can enjoy Madeira, before as an aperitif (a great palate cleanser), in conjunction with food, and after the meal as a course on its own (although toasted pecans are a traditional and wonderful Southern accompaniment with Malmsey). If you're interested in learning more, you might want to seek do a little web research on Madeira parties to learn more about the unique role in American society and colonial history that Madeira has played. Madeiras are among my favorite wines, but I find the history behind them even more fascinating.

      2. Surprisingly there's not much good info around. Introductory pieces oversimplify, and the good info sites are pretty boring and intimidating for a 'newbie'. Try starting with the link at the bottom. If you want more, then try

        This has too much info, but if you're selective it has lots of good stuff.


        3 Replies
        1. re: estufarian

          Thanks for the links -- interesting information. Not sure I'm ready to start with a really old vintage though -- any thoughts on a good brand/vintage to start with?

          1. re: DanaB

            As long as it's from Madeira/Portugal it should be fine. There are relatively few exporters, and all are reliable.
            I'd suggest trying a cheaper one (e.g. branded or 5 year-old) to see what style you like. A Sercial or Verdelho for drier, or, Bual or Malmsey for sweeter. Once you've confirmed a style then try a 10- or 15- year-old to see whether the increasing quality warrants the price.

            If you see it, try the Broadbent Reserve 5 yr old Madeira. This is medium sweet, but is a relative bargain, because it doesn't have the magic 'grape variety' designation. It's made from tinta negra mole but in a Bual style. Best value around.

            1. re: estufarian

              Thanks! I'll report back once I try your suggestions.

        2. Broadbent's in San Francisco is a good source, too. They have their own, which is produced by Bartholomew and his father, Michael Broadbent. Michael has written extensively about madeira, and I remember reading somewhere that madeira is his favorite aperitif.