Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I know that only fortified wines from Portugal’s Douro Valley can be labeled "Port.” What other wines are fortified?
—Donn, Victoria, B.C.
You’re correct that most producers respect the fact that genuine Port comes from Portugal's Douro Valley, just as true Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. But many other wine-producing regions have borrowed the term to refer to their own fortified wines. For example, South African versions are sometimes called “Cape Ports” and Australia is known for their tawnies, a style that originated in Portugal.
When we say a wine is “fortified,” we mean that a spirit like neutral, clear brandy has been added to it. Originally, in the 17th century, wine was fortified as a way to stabilize it during overseas shipping. Other fortified beverages include Marsala, Sherry, Madeira and Vermouth. But if you’ve developed a taste for the sweet richness of Port, you can look for versions made in other parts of the world—it can be tricky to search for them as a group, especially if they aren’t using the term. I suspect that late-harvest red wines might be to your liking as well.