Why do we fortify wines?

Fortification is one of the oldest methods of preserving wines so that they can be stored for long periods or for transportation. More than 4000 years ago Phoenician traders fortified wines to stabilise them before shipping them throughout the Mediterranean. Fortification involves the addition of a spirit or alcohol solution which raises the alcohol level of the wine to between 15% and 20% v/v. This precludes further microbial action so that not only does it stop yeast fermentation but also inhibits bacterial oxidation - very useful in the days before refrigeration and stainless steel containers. The stage at which the spirit is added and the types of spirit used have a significant influe

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