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Dessert & Fortified

To be enjoyed like a fine Scotch: Slowly. They’re strong, sweet, and unravel complex flavors over time.

About Dessert & Fortified Wine

Fortified wine is a wine that has been strengthened by added alcohol. There are two primary types: one fortified during fermentation (Port) and the other after fermentation is complete (Sherry).


Port comes from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Midway through fermentation, the neutral grape spirit is added to kill the fermenting yeast, leaving residual sweetness in the wine and boosting alcohol to 18-20%.  Sherry, which comes from Jerez in southern Spain, completes its fermentation, leaving a dry wine. Grape spirit is then added, boosting the total alcohol to 15-18%, depending on the final style.


Dessert wines are typically made from late-harvested grapes that have accumulated very high amounts of sugar. Often, the grapes for such wines have also been dried, or raisinated, further concentrating the sugars. These sweet wines are pair well with sweet desserts or can be dessert on their own. Famous examples include Sauternes, from France and very late harvest Riesling wines from Germany.

The Difference Between

Dessert & Fortified Wine

It can be easy to confuse the two since many fortified wines—such as Port—can be sweet very much like dessert wines. Both, can also, sometimes just be enjoyed as dessert on their own. However, they are produced using two distinctly different winemaking techniques. Both can be very high in alcohol, regardless of how sweet they are. And the bottom line for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, both categories end up having the same legal definition, as of wines that clock in at 14 percent—or more—in alcohol by volume.