1. Madeira wine and food. Honestly


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    At the Big Fortified tasting we saw Madeira guru Trevor Elliot run a seminar on matching the fortified wine with food. Sounds bananas doesn't it. But it can really work. First on economic grounds: if you're someone who comes home and necks a bottle a night, my hats off to you. But you might want to rein that in. A fortified wine is a smart way to do that: it can last for weeks in the fridge and one small glass, instead of half a bottle, will give you the alcohol punch you need after a stressful day at the office. Madeira is clever because it has a four-step range from dry to sweet. Start on labels stating Verdelho or Bual - these are the mid ranges, and will compliment savoury to sweet (or cheese). Give it a go and let us know how you get on.

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    • Aussie Sweet Wines from Rutherglen


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      At The Big Fortified Tasting this year there were some seminars - one of which was presented by Chris Pfeiffer of Rutherglen. They've been making wines for 20-odd years in Australia and run the full gambit of honeyed dessert wines to sticky, Pedro Ximenez-style wines. Although its a more risky way to make sweet wine, where the fruit is more liable to infection, Rutherglen let the grapes mature on the vine, rather than sun-drying. This means the acid in the fruit matures alongside the sugar. As a result, these are sweet, but not cloying. They're a terrific range of wines and affordable - the Topaque was a particular hit with Cameraman.

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