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 an alcoholic content of 12%. 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 arrives to a stronger alcohol content to be conformed with his codification. Fortified or sweet wine is a typical Sicilian lands product, where it exists a centuries-old tradition both for wine production and various types of spirits, all with the best quality. We are aware of the food and beverage culture of this area, which offers fortified wines for every situation and sweet wines to combine together with the best desserts.
Therefore quality is very high and that's because manufacturing companies are very focussed on the production process allowed by 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 deadline 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 al know that in Sicily are grown qualities of grapes with a strong flavor with typically oriental touches, which remain even when it is transormed into liqueur. Those aftertastes brings our minds to candied citrus fruit, to the many spices used, honey and caramel, for a velvety and full-bodied compactness 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 for the production of these drinks, named as fortification. This method was necessary because it allows to conserve quantities of product during long journeys. In fact, even in ancient times, Sicily was a very important export center for wines and, toghether with the other southern regions, they sold them above all in Great Britain. The long journeys facilitates 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 his 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 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 PDOs 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, friends or as a gift on special occasions.
Another type of fortified sweet wine is Nikao, a world-unique product, which is obtained from the natural withering of Nero d'Avola, another Sicilian pride. With sugary shades but without exceeding, to 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 PGI 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 PDOs Fine Marsala, a pleasure for all the senses that are involved.