Friday Tastings: Rare Wine Co. Madeira

Here’s how this usually goes: we say dessert wine, you say too sweet. Well, no. Not Madeira. And certainly not during the holidays, when sweet beverages (how’s that eggnog?) are as ubiquitous as reindeer sweaters. Madeira (fortified, aged, and heat-exposed wine from Portugal’s Madeira Islands) was once much-loved in America (the founding fathers were big fans). And with their Historic Series Madeiras—four non-vintage selections now available in a limited gift set of half-bottles—the Rare Wine Co. reminds us why. Using stocks of Special Reserve Madeira from Vinhos Barbeito (a choice Madeira house) blended with 40-to-60-year old Tinta Negro Mole, the set highlights the versatility and nuance of vintage Madeira without a vintage price tag (the set is $95). Each bottle is named for an American port that did brisk Madeira trade. The Charleston Sercial is dry, sherry-like, and would romance a cheese plate; the lively Savannah Verdelho could handle a pork belly; the Boston Bual (our pick) has a date with that cigar you’ve been saving; and the rich New York Malmsey is destined for chocolate. Sweet.

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