Fortified and sweet wines, an entirely Sicilian passion
Fortified and sweet wines category is part, with full rights, of the special Wines category with flavored wines that need at least a 12% alcoholic content. Also, in the winemaking process, wine is transformed adding some elements. One of them is mistella, a wort which fermentation is blocked adding alcohol, but also wine spirit, alcohol or wort partially dried, known as concentrate wort. Thereby the drink reaches a stronger alcoholic content to be conformed with its typology. Fortified or sweet wine is a typical Sicilian lands product, where there's a centuries-old tradition both for wine production and various types of spirits, all with the best possible quality. We are familiar with the food and beverage culture of this area, which offers fortified wines for every situation and sweet wines that can be combined with the best desserts.
Therefore quality is very high and that's because manufacturing companies are very focused on the production process in line with the European Union; this happens, however, without ever abandoning the secrets that have been handed down for centuries, to create a product of the highest quality and with an authentic flavor. Let's not forget that this wines category has no expiration date and can last up to 50 years, without affecting their pleasantness. The main feature of fortified and sweet wines is mainly the colour, which changes according to the grape used. In fact, we all know that in Sicily are grown qualities of grapes with a strong flavor with typically oriental notes, that remain even when it's transformed into liqueur. Those aftertastes bring to our minds candied citrus fruit, the many spices used, honey and caramel, for a velvety and full-bodied texture that is not easily forgotten.
But why are Sicilian liqueurs so good?
Looking back a few centuries, we read that in ancient times a particular technique was used to produce these drinks: it was called fortification. This method was necessary because it allowed the conservation of products during long journeys. In fact, even in ancient times, Sicily was a very important export center for wines and, along with the other southern regions, they sold them especially in Great Britain. The long journeys facilitated fermentation and the ingenious technique of fortification, that is the addition of alcohol before, after or during fermentation to stabilize the liquid, was used to prevent its natural path. Usually for liqueur and sweet wines this happens before they ferment to accentuate the sugary tones, making them particularly pleasant. Furthermore, the best liqueur and sweet wines have always been produced in areas near the sea and in Sicily, that is a leader in this sector. In fact, thanks to Marsala, which represents an all-italian pride, Sicily is renowned all over the world. Marsala Fine Dry Amber, for example, is a model of our own italian producion appreciated in many European countries. It is a DOC fortified wine with an intense aroma and with amber shades and a typical soft taste. Aged for over a Year, Marsala Fine Dry Amber is produced from inzolia, grillo and catarratto grapes then aged in oak barrels. A unique product to be enjoyed on holidays with family and friends, or as a gift on special occasions.
Another type of fortified sweet wine is Nikao, a world-unique product obtained from the natural withering of Nero d'Avola, another Sicilian pride. It has sugary shades but without exceeding and it can be combined with dark chocolate or a chocolate dessert. With a full flavor and a light taste of carob and dried figs, it is a typical product of our local tradition. Another excellent fortified wine is the Sicily IGP Zibibbo, a very aromatic fortified wine obtained from the best vineyards of our region. Lastly, the Almond Cream is made with the two leading products of Sicily, almonds and DOC Fine Marsala, a pleasure for all the senses that are involved.