It’s Madeira, My Dear!

What comes from a small Portuguese island of the same name 400 miles off the Moroccan coast of Africa and bares a strong similarity to Port? Madeira! Now truthfully, as a fortified wine, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, this unique wine does have its charms… As well as a fascinating history.

It was popular in Colonial and early 19th century America. The winemaking ingenuity of the islands of Madeira dates to the Age of Exploration when they were a standard port of call for ships bound for the New World or East Indies. Liquors (or wine spirits) were added to prevent wine spoilage on the long sea voyages (which exposed the cargo to excessive heat and movement). Madeira is noted today for its unique process of oxidizing the wine through heat and aging.

Check out these fun, historical Madeira facts:

  • Thomas Jefferson considered it a favorite — it was even used to toast the Declaration of Independence!
  • George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams all are said to have appreciated a glass of Madeira.
  • Benjamin Franklin liked it so much he noted the wine in his autobiography.
  • A bottle of Madeira was used to christen the USS Constitution in 1797.
  • John Marshall (our nation’s fourth Chief Justice) and many of his colleagues thought Madeira a “supreme” wine.
  • Madeira was often the life of the gala… And frequently served with walnuts as a last course at fancy, early 1800s Washington dinner parties!

There is one more Madeira tidbit you might be interested in… There’s a novelty song, inspiring the title for this lot, written in 1957 and performed by many, it’s a tad risqué — but in a silly, comic sense, at least for the zeitgeist of the times.

While approximately 85% of Madeira is produced using red Negra Mole grapes, there are also four major white grape varieties. From sweetest to driest they are Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho, and Sercial. This lot includes all but a Verdelho.

You could make some history of your own with this enticing lot. Want to have your very own cache of Madeira? Be bold, raise those paddles… And bid, bid, bid!

  • Adegas do Torreão Madeira Malvasia 1923
  • Barbeito Madeira Malvasia 1915
  • Cossart Gordon & Co. Madeira Bual 1845
  • D’Oliveiras Madeira Sercial 1937
  • Justino’s Madeira Sercial 1950


Donated by Dana & Stacy Childs

Adegas do Torre%E3o Madeira Malvazia 1923

Barbeito Madeira Malvazia 1915

Cossart Gordon & Co. Madeira Bual 1845
D’Oliveiras Madeira Sercial 1937

Justino’s Madeira Sercial 1950