What is the difference between sweet wine and fortified wine

First of all, the sweet wines produced in different wine regions in the world have different styles, and the definition of sweet wines is different. Some production areas stipulate that sweet wines are wines that are used to match desserts, some production areas believe that sweet wines are desserts themselves, and some production areas believe that sweet wines are wines that are drunk after dinner. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) stipulates that the alcohol content of table wine must not be higher than 14%, and the alcohol content of sweet wine must be above 14% and not higher than 24%. . Although different producing regions have different views on the definition of sweet wine, they all reached a consensus-sweet wine has higher sugar content than table wine. The types of sweet wines include: Late Harvest, ice wine and noble rot wine.

Secondly, fortified wine is made by adding grape distilled wine to fermented wine, also known as grape brandy. The method of adding distilled wine to wine can not only increase the alcohol content, but also interrupt the fermentation, leaving unfermented sugars in the wine, which is sweet. The alcohol content of fortified wine is generally between 16% and 20%. The well-known fortified wines include Madeira from Portugal, Marsala from Italy, Port from Portugal, Sherry from Spain and Natural sweet wine from France (Vins Doux Naturels) and so on.

The definition of fortified wine-in the brewing process, by adding high-alcohol distilled wine twice to stop the fermentation, to play the role of fortification. Common fortified wines include Madeira, Marsala and Port and so on.

Which wines are fortified wines?


Porter is a fortified red wine produced in Portugal, generally sweet, but dry and semi-dry are also produced. Sweet Porter is generally enjoyed as a dessert wine after a meal.


There are two types of Marsala: fortified and ordinary. Both types are produced in the port of Marsala in Sicily, Italy. Fortified Marsala first appeared as a substitute for Sherry. Marsala is very popular in Italy and is often used as a seasoning for risotto.

Madeira (Madeira) 

Madeira wine is produced in the Madeira Islands, Portugal, and can be dry or sweet. Dry Madeira is often used as a pre-dinner wine, and sweet as a dessert wine after a meal. 


Vermouth is not only fortified with spirits, but also flavored with herbs and spices. The vermouth recipe is a secret, but commonly used spices and herbs include cinnamon, chamomile, marjoram and cardamom. Initially, people used these materials to hide the unpleasant taste in poor-quality wines. Today, vermouth is a fortified wine commonly used in cocktails, but it is sometimes drunk directly as a pre-dinner wine.

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