What is fortified wine?

Published by Tamara Harrison - 6th Aug 2019

Rutherglen winemaker, Jen Pfeiffer, just loves her fortified wine and has put pen to paper to help Angels understand more about this style of wine. Take it away, Jen!


Simply put, to fortify a wine means to add a distilled grape spirit to the wine, increasing its alcohol content.

Fortified wines have been made for hundreds of years, and include styles such as Port, Madeira, Sherry (or Apera as we call it), and of course, Muscat and Topaque (famously produced here in Rutherglen).

I make three styles of fortified wines for Naked Wines – my Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond 10 y.o. Rutherglen Tawny, my Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Topaque NV and my Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Rutherglen Muscat.


Each of my Diamond fortified wines are matured in barrel, for several years prior to blending. Every year I make single vintage “base wines” that go into barrels like these:

Over time, a very slow oxygenation of the wine occurs, due to the porosity of the oak. At the same time evaporation occurs through the timber (averaged at 3% per year), which is mainly the water content of the wine escaping to the atmosphere. We actually call this evaporative loss “the Angels share!!!” These evaporative losses concentrates all the other components of the wine, increasing things such as sugar, acidity, glycerol and FLAVOUR! 

My Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond 10 y.o. Rutherglen Tawny has an average age of 10 years in barrel, meaning it is a blend of several different vintages. The oldest wine in the blend is around 18 years old, while the youngest is 5 years old.  Likewise my Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Topaque NV and Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Rutherglen Muscat both have an average age of 5 years in barrel, again blended across multiple vintages.

It is the time in the barrel and the art of blending that delivers the ultimate in flavour, complexity and concentration. 

As they say in the classics, great wine takes time!! 


Now, it’s time to talk taste! Check out my video to hear about all the deliciousness!!! 

And if you are looking for inspiration as to when to serve these wines, hopefully this will give you some inspiration….

They also all make great aperitifs, just perfect for sipping on while cooking dinner! 

Cheers, and rock it like a champion of fortifieds,



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