How to Make Fortified Wine at Home (BEGINNER’S Guide)

Do you love the taste of fortified wine? We do, too. In this blog post, we will teach you how to make fortified wine at home.

It’s a fun and easy process, and the results are delicious!

We will walk you through each step of the process, so you can make a batch of fortified wine that is perfect for your palate.

Let’s get started!

How To Make Fortified Wine – The Easy Way!

Fortified wine is made by adding a spirit to stabilize fermentation and extend the shelf life of the wine.

It also dramatically increases the alcohol content and changes the flavor of the wine.

Add spirits during or after the second fermentation to fortify the wine and stop fermentation.

This results in a sweeter, stabilized wine that will have a dramatically longer shelf life.

The easiest way to make fortified wine is to purchase a winemaking kit and follow the directions to ferment the wine base.

Add spirits after the second fermentation step and bottle as directed.

Most wine kits are less than $100 and make 6 gallons of wine or about 36 bottles of wine. That’s a lot of fortified wine from one kit!

Read our related article on How to Bottle Wine at home! Here’s how to do it the RIGHT way (and what to avoid).

What Is Fortified Wine?

Fortified Wine
Fortified wine has brandy or rum added to extend the shelf life.

Fortified wine is a type of wine that has been mixed with spirits like brandy or rum.

The resulting mixture has a higher alcohol content than regular wine, and it is often used in cooking or for special occasions.

Fortified wine can be made from any type of grape, but it is most commonly made with red grapes.

The alcohol content of fortified wine can vary depending on how much spirit has been added, but it typically ranges from 15 to 22 percent.

In comparison, regular wine has an alcohol content of only 12 to 14 percent.

It is often sweeter than regular wine because the sugar in the grapes is not fully fermented during the second fermentation process.

The sweetness level can also be affected by the type of spirit that is used to fortify the wine.

For example, brandy is sweeter than rum, so a fortified wine made with brandy will be sweeter than one made with rum.

This can be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in cocktails or other mixed drinks. It can also be used in cooking to add flavor and depth to savory dishes or desserts.

Fermentation boosts the sweetness and viscosity of the wine, creating a thicker and more complex beverage that can make a delicious fortified dessert wine.

Whether you enjoy fruity wines like sauvignon blanc or full-bodied reds like Shiraz, fortifying your favorite varietals is a great way to customize your drinking experience.

Another reason to consider making your fortified wines is that they are easy and fun to create at home.

With relatively simple supplies and just a few minutes of work each day, anyone can craft a collection of fortified wines.

What Are the Most Popular Types of Fortified Wine?

Sherry, Port and Madeira, Vermouth, and Marsala are four of the most popular fortified wines on the market today.

They are made by adding a measured amount of distilled spirit or brandy to a wine, allowing the drink to retain some sweetness while increasing its alcoholic content.

This fortification results in wines with higher levels of alcohol and a sweeter, richer flavor than that of unfortified table wines.

Of these two commonly available types, Port is perhaps best known for its long aging process, which produces complex flavors over time.

Meanwhile, Sherry is a very popular option among wine enthusiasts thanks to its unique flavor profile and wide range of styles and sub-types.

Port, Sherry, and Madeira are 3 of the favorite fortified drinking wines in the world, while Marsala is frequently used in fine cooking.

Read More: What is Still Wine? Learn all about still wine, its uses, pairing ideas, and more in this detailed guide!

How To Make Fortified Wine – Step by Step

Port and Sherry
Port and Sherry are the most well-known fortified wines.

All that differs in the production of fortified wine is the inclusion of alcohol at some point during the process, which varies depending on the sort of fortified wine you like to make.

Alcohol can be added at any point during the fermentation process, including at the start, during, and after the fermentation process.

Let’s take a closer look at each way of fortifying wine in greater depth.

Read our related article, How Long Does it Take to Make Wine? Whether you’re making wine at home or are curious about how long it takes to make various types of wine, this guide is for you!

Step 1: Choosing Your Ingredients

The first step in making fortified wine is to start with a high-quality base wine.

Depending on your preferred style, you can choose from a variety of grape varietals, including chardonnay, riesling, and cabernet sauvignon.

Regardless of which type you choose, it’s important to remember that the quality of the finished product will ultimately depend on the quality of the base wine.

This involves creating a grape juice base that is high in sugar content.

This can be done by picking ripe grapes, extracting their juice, and allowing them to ferment at a warm temperature.

You can also purchase a wine grape juice concentrate base that is ready for fermentation, and already filtered without skins, stems, or seeds.

Step 2: Preparing Your Ingredients

Once you’ve chosen your base wine, you’ll need to add a brandy or liquor spirit concentrate to it to fortify it.

This fortification process is usually done by adding a small amount of brandy or other spirits after each fermentation stage.

Ideally, this will take place just before bottling so that the flavors have time to meld together into a harmonious whole.

Step 3: Fermenting Your Wine

After blending all of your wine ingredients including the juice base and yeast, set the wine in a fermentation barrel with a valve on top that allows fermentation gasses to escape.

After 3 to 7 days the first fermentation will be done. Filter the wine to separate it from the solids that are collected in the bottom of the fermentation vessel.

Set it to ferment for another 1 to 2 weeks. In a vineyard, this fermentation may take place in oak to develop a rich flavor.

Read More: Difference Between Winery and Vineyard. We explain the differences between these two establishments and the parts they play in wine-making!

Step 4: Adding The Fortification

You can make fortified wine at home
You can make fortified wine at home to enjoy this rich drink anytime.

After fermentation is complete, add the spirit to fortify the wine and extend its shelf life.

This adds a new dimension of flavor and significantly increases the alcohol content of the wine.

Step 5: Aging Your Wine

Most wines should age for 6 months to a year before opening, and they are considered to be fresh wines.

Depending on the wine you make, you may want to wait several years before uncorking it to sample.

Read More: Wine Grapes vs Table Grapes. Can you eat wine grapes and turn table grapes into wine? Here’s what to know about types of grapes!

Final Thoughts

If you are already into making wine at home, there is every reason to explore fortified wines.

Consider splitting your next wine batch and fortifying half before bottling.

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