'm always asked what wine I'd bring to a desert island and I always answer the same way: Madeira. It might even be my death row wine.
Madeira is one of the greatest wines in the world and rarely gets any respect. Most think (wrongly) that Madeira is a very sweet wine. Even the sweetest versions have really high acidity so they come off less sweet than other fortified wines.
It's an extremely opportune time to pay homage to my desert island wine because of its ties to the 4th of July. Thomas Jefferson (a serious oenophile) was a huge fan and the founding fathers toasted with a bottle after they signed a little thing called The Declaration of Indepedence back in 1776.
Beyond the fact that Thomas Jefferson deserves a cheers, here's why you should incorporate Madeira into your 4th of July festivities:
A little Madeira will go a long way. The concentration and richness of the wine allows you to savor it. It also pairs well with many types of food - I dare you to try it with your 4th of July hot dogs and be the same again.
Some great Madeira options:
Henriques & Henriques Verdelho 10 Year Old: Intense and pretty dry, fresh and balanced with bitter almond notes
Barbeito Historic Series Charleston: Really intense nose, spicy, tobacco, quite earthy, and part of their series that highlights some of the port cities in the U.S. that were popular destinations for Madeira (look for Savannah, Boston and the limited edition New Orleans too).
Broadbent 10 Year Old Malmsey Madeira: Although it has some sweetness, the searing acidity makes this wine really vibrant on the palate, great with everything from pate to fried foods
Rebecca Chapa, owner of Tannin Management, is a wine and spirits educator and consultant living in San Francisco. She writes about wine, spirits travel and music on her personal blog www.rebeccachapa.com