Synonyms: None

Wine Name: Rainwater, Sercial, Verdelho, Bual (Boal), and Malmsey Madiera

Background: Madeira wines are similar to Ports and Sherries in that they are fortified and intentionally oxidized. Madeira is also heat treated which speeds up oxidation and turns the white wines brown. Generally the grapes are fermented either to dryness and then have distilled grape spirit added or the fermentation is arrested with distilled grape spirit (Bual and Malmsey). The wines are then aged usually in old wood and subjected to the heated estufas or age in warm sunny areas.

There are quite a few styles of Madeira and also there are different quality levels of aging ranging from bulk wines to 3 year old, 5 year old, 10 year old, Extra Reserve (> 15 years), Colheita ( from a single year’s harvest), and Frasqueira (single harvest aged 20 years or more). Grapes used to make Madeira are Tinta Mole, Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia (for Malmsey style).

Classic Brands and Sources: Cossart Gordon, Blandy, Sandeman, Leacock, Pereira D’Oliveira, Henriques & Henriques, Vinhos Barbeito



Body – light

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – low


Body – medium (-)

Acidity – high

Sweetness – off dry

Tannins – low


Body – medium

Acidity – high

Sweetness – off dry

Tannins – low


Body – medium (+)

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – semi-sweet

Tannins – low


Body – full

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – medium (-)

Wine and food pairing guidelines:
All styles are mostly used as apertifs and dessert wines. Rainwater, Sercial and Verdelho styles are acidic and pair with acidic dishes, whereas the sweetness in Bual can pair with spicy dishes and Malmsey goes more with desserts, nuts and cheeses.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Rainwater, Sercial and Verdelho – Salads with vinegarettes and walnuts, blue cheese, game, goose, duck, veal with acidic marinades or sauces
Bual – Pairs with spicy Pacific Rim, Mexican and South American foods, figs, dates, cured meats.
Malmsey – Crème Bruelee, Caramel-based desserts Pies of Apple, Apricots, Pecans, Cherries, or Mince; Almonds, Hazelnuts, Biscotti, Dried Figs, Vanilla Ice Cream

Cheese Pairings:
Rainwater, Sercial and Verdelho – Boursin herbed, Brick, Derby, Feta (sheep’s milk), goat cheese, Gouda, Havarti, Majorero (Spanish hard goat cheese) Mahon, Bucheron (French goat cheese), dry Jack cheese, Cream cheese, Neufchatel , Saint -Felicien (French cow;s milk cheese), Raclette, Pave Affinois
Bual – Brie, Camembert, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano
Malmsey – Blue Cheese, Stilton, and nutty flavored cheeses such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, Swiss, Fontal, Maasdam