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Madeira, my dear

Madeira is back. The historic wine that’s versatile and surprising. Top Sommeliers explain why it’s the ultimate pairing wine.

Once the staple of private clubs and a post-prandial, Madeira is making its mark on tasting menus and by-the-glass selections. Sommeliers are starting to introduce this historic wine to a new generation of aficionados. Wonderfully aromatic in style, Madeira can age to over 100 years old. Its versatility is unmatched when it comes to complex dishes.

Klearhos Kanellakis, head sommelier at Eksted at The Yard, explains, “I like Madeira wines a lot. Sometimes I prefer them to sweeter Ports. Madeira is very easy to stock and serve by the glass. It gives you a greater range to offer. Having back vintages available for the guests to experience something very old and rare, is also interesting.”

Kanellakis is running a volcanic wine pairing for our 6 course-set menu at Eksted currently with a Madeira served with coffee and snacks. He continues, “It’s not a hard sell, customers enjoy Madeira wines. Their first reaction, once they smell a glass, is “Wow!” Probably due to the high aromatic intensity.”

He believes that it is easier to suggest a Madeira when a diner trusts the sommelier or are ordering a wine pairing. “This gives the sommelier a vehicle to guide them through wines that they wouldn’t necessarily buy from the list,”he says.

Enjoying Madeira with food
A tough sell or not?

Vincenzo Arnese,  director of wine at Raffles, London, at The OWO differs from Kanellakis in that he feels that, “despite being an incredible wine that we can all enjoy, Madeira is still a difficult product to sell.” He believes that this is probably due to “the different styles, so much diversity can prevent new drinkers from approaching it.” However, he does agree with his counterpart that the best way to promote Madeira is by proposing it by the glass, “creating specific wine pairings so that they can be explained by the sommelier and create new followers,” he says.

“It’s not a hard sell, customers enjoy Madeira wines. Their first reaction, once they smell a glass, is “Wow!” Probably due to the high aromatic intensity.”

Arnese comments, “At OWO we love the wines and its different styles. Our list is dedicated to the British contribution to the wine world which, via the many different trade routes, contribute to the creation of wine regions around the world and strengthening the production in others. At Raffles, London,” he continues, “Madeira is one of our oldest vintages. We list an incredible 1910 Sercial from the Madeira Wine Company.  Thanks to its production method this wine stands at the edge of time.”

Food and wine pairing is an important aspect of a sommelier’s job and this is something that Madeira lends itself well to. Andre Luis Martins, general manager at Pedro’s Wine Bar & Shop, explains that ” in the last 10 years Madeira has been gaining notoriety as a food friendly wine and receiving deserved attention in the cocktail world, too. Madeira is being used increasingly on tasting menus and with more creative dishes.”

Versatile and full of surprises

“Madeira is one of our oldest vintages.   Thanks to its production method this wine stands at the edge of time.”

“It is still frequently misunderstood by the customer. However, in the last 15 years, the fortified categories – including Madeira – have attracted new followers. The history of this wine is incredible; its capacity to travel, its close connection  to the history of America and its status in the cellars of many Royal Houses and famous tables around the world, down the years.” He adds, “Madeira wines show great complexity in terms of aromas and flavours with charming acidity and at the same time each specific style has a unique and amazing personality.”

Taste great Madeiras in London this November

If you are a wine trade professional and want to try a spectacular range of Madeiras you can attend the Annual Madeira Tasting on 16th of November 2023 in London. Sommeliers can register here

Consumers can attend the tasting on the same evening by registering here


Andre Luis MartinsEksted at The YardKlearhos KanellakisMadeiraOWORaffles LondonVincenzo Arnese
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