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Wine and Food Wednesday
Have Some Madeira, My Dear

By Stephen Eliot

How did the world lose sight of these unique wines? This year, I am going to spread some Madeira around.

It has happened again. Christmas has a nasty habit of sneaking up on me, and what with the oh-so-significant daily buzz about Jay Miller and the Wine Advocate occupying my every thought (yes, that is sarcasm you hear), I have again been blindsided by the seemingly sudden arrival of the holidays and need to kick into high gear or be left behind. There are presents to buy and menus to plan, and I think that this year Madiera will figure prominently in meeting my seasonal duties.

Despite the fact that Madeira has for the last decade or so been winning new recognition and fans owing largely to the tireless efforts of Madeira guru Mannie Berk, it is still among the most underappreciated of the world’s truly great wines. Frankly, that suits me just fine. There will be no overcrowding in the Maderia aisle of my favorite wine stores, no concerns about being maced as I fight for the last bottle of prized Verdelho, no worries about the wines being sold out.

Even though I know that I am not alone in appreciating Madeira, I sometimes feel like it is my own little secret, and, since surprising my wine-conscious family and friends is my lot, I know they will be pleased at the wines’ utter uniqueness and downright delicious differences from the normal fare. There are lighter Sercials for aperitif drinking and soups. There are richer Verdelhos to drink through the meal, but, for me, it is the great, sweet, meal-ending Buals and Malmseys that I look forward to most at this time of year. It is as if they were conceived with the classic desserts of Christmas in mind. The latter, especially, can make the dreaded fruitcake a delight, and from pecan pie to panforte, plum pudding to preserved fruits, no wine I know surpasses the sweeter pair of Madeiras in seamlessly fitting in at the holiday dessert table.

If you are new to Madeira and want to see what the wines offer, know that there are plenty of first-rate bottlings to be had from easy-to-find producers like Henriques & Henriques, Blandys, Leacock, and Miles to name but a few. It has been quite a long time, in fact, since I have tasted a bad Madeira, but I do admit to a favorite. I have a particular fondness for the wines of Barbeito, especially those of the winery’s “Historic Series.” I recently stumbled across a link on Barbeito’s website under the heading of “Barbeito and Food” ( that is an extraordinarily useful primer for matching Madeiras with food, and I would encourage wine lovers of every stripe to check in for a visit.

There are times when I really do not need to know why a wine works with food, times when I would put my critic’s hat aside and simply get lost in the magic of a great food and wine marriage. That is just what I plan to do this Christmas, and Madeira will be in my glass.


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No Subject
by Patrick
Posted on:12/14/2011 3:06:19 PM

Have some Madeira, m'dear

You really have nothing to fear

If it were gin, you'd be wrong to say YES.

The evils gin does would be hard to assess

And besides, it's inclined to affect my prowESS

Have some madeira, m'dear.

She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did;

He slyly refilled it again.

And he said, as he carved one more notch

on the butt of his gold-handled cane,

"Have some madeira m'dear".

I could go on.

Have Some Madeira, M'dear
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:12/14/2011 3:15:16 PM


Lovely. Thanks.

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