Wine

Caramel Color

All you need after dinner is Madeira

Come meal's end, we can't think of a better drink than Madeira.

At its best, the famed fortified wine startles with deep caramel notes and refreshing acidity--precisely the postprandial denouement we crave in our wineglasses. But high price points have thwarted contemporary wine drinkers, pushing the meal-closing nectar into relative obscurity in the United States.

In an effort to reclaim the glory Madeira once had in this country, Sonoma merchant Rare Wine Co. commissioned Ricardo Freitas, proprietor of the superb wine house Vinhos Barbeito, to create a series that captures the allure of aged Madeira but without the extreme price.

Now, the Historic Wine Series offers five types of Madeira, each named for U.S. cities that were once known for throwing "Madeira parties" in the 18th and 19th centuries. The newest is the Savannah Verdelho, a gently dry wine that smacks of walnuts and pairs fantastically with hard cheeses like Parmesan.

Others in the series include the even drier Charleston Sercial ($50), the burnt-sugar spark plug Boston Bual ($50) and the butterscotch-laden New York Malmsey ($50).

Ditch the headache of juggling a variety of dessert wines: You've just found your new all-purpose after-dinner bottles.

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