It can be confusing but what is the difference between a fortified wine and a port? Well, all ports are fortified wines but only fortified wines from Portugal are Ports. The same also applies to Sherry in that sherry is a fortified wine but only those made in Spain can be called Sherry.
Got all that? Now comes the Australian terms we can use to describe our fortifieds and essentially distinguish what is a “port” style or a “sherry" style.
Firstly “port” style wines can use the term Vintage, Ruby and Tawny. These refer to the styles in which the wine is made and aged. A vintage is usually of exceptional quality, made from a single year and once bottled can be left to age gracefully for many years. Ruby is a blend of younger fruit driven styles while Tawnys are a blend of aged wines and are complex and developed. Other styles you also see include White Fortifieds which may be sweet or dry, Pink Fortifieds and even Liqueur Styles.
Now onto “sherry” styles which are now known in Australia as Apera. These wines can be dry, medium dry, medium sweet or sweet/cream. Some producers may also use words to describe their wines within these categories such as fine, flor, solero or nutty.
There is one other name change for Australian Fortifieds and that is Tokay (made from Muscadelle grapes) is not okay anymore… it’s now known as Topaque!
So now you know the go, you can get out there and enjoy the wonderful world of fortified wines.