Perhaps the most popular export of Madeira is its dessert wine that carries the same name. So it seemed only natural to seek out its origins when I was on vacation in Madeira recently. And of course, continue the tradition of exporting it.
Many visitors to Madeira will stay in Funchal, the island’s capital. Madeira seems quite underdeveloped for tourism in the sense that it caters to daytrippers from cruise ships that stop over en route to the canaries or the coast of west Africa. There are no big resorts to be found, but many small bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and design places, most of which are in or around Funchal.
While staying in a city may not seem the natural thing to do on an island holiday, it is actually not a problem as the city feels quite small even though it counts over 100,000 inhabitants, and it is quick and easy to get out into the mountains or other places of interest. But more importantly, it is full of things to discover in itself.
The Old Blandy Wine Lodge
Right in the middle of Funchal is the Old Blandy Wine Lodge. It dates back to the 1840s when Charles Blandy bought the annex part of the monastery complex and converted it into a winery.
Nowadays the wines are produced outside the lodge, but the Old Blandy Wine Lodge continues to store all the premium wines as they age naturally. There are two things you can do: take a tour and learn all about the history of the winery and how Madeira wine is produced, and of course, a wine tasting.
You can taste the wine either in the main tasting room or in the old vintage tasting room, where hundreds of bottles of Madeira wine line the shelves around the room. Some date back as far as 1908!
Types of Madeira wine
Madeira wines come in four different varieties and are named after the grape from which they are made: Sercial (dry), Verdelho (medium dry), Bual (medium rich/sweet) and Malmsey (rich/sweet).
It is fairly safe to say that there is a Madeira wine for everyone due to the varying degrees of sweetness and dryness. All you have to do is walk up to the counter and select the age of the Madeira wines you would like to try: 3, 5, 10 or 20 years. Prices are very affordable regardless of the age you choose. And given the very nice ambiente in the Max Romer tasting room it’s not only your taste buds that will have a great experience! Take a look around by clicking on the 360 degree panoramic photo below:
What’s the best wine lodge you’ve been to? Is wine tasting something you do while on vacation?