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Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. Produced in a range of styles from dry wines which can be enjoyed on their own or as an aperitif, to the more commonly known sweet wines enjoyed with desert. Cheaper versions might be seasoned with salt and pepper for use in cooking. Most quality madeira is made from four grapes, each making wines of a different weight and sweetness. These are Malmsey, Bual, Verdehlo and Sercial, with Malmsey being the sweetest. A lesser version of Madeira is sometimes made using Tinta Negro, but this variety would not have close to the ageing potential of other varieties. Madeira ages better in a little heat, making it unusual compared to most wines. Despite the long history and fame of Madeira, the grapes grown on this island remain rarely found anywhere else! Wine-tasting partis might seem like a modern phenomenon but they actually have their roots in early 19th century Madeira. Traditionally, the host served six to eight wines representing several styles and vintages, accompanied by biscuits, nuts and olives.