Toast's Blandy's Alvada Madeira makes drinking dessert historic and sweet

Blandy's Alvada Madeira

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe
415 N. First St., Minneapolis

Many needlessly fear the fortified wines, especially as a chilly and precipitous winter continues to unfold. The Hot Dish has no such reservations, so when we stumbled on Blandy's Alvada Madeira at Toast, we eagerly gave it a try.

Care to learn how Madeira played a part in American history, and how this Madeira is different from the rest?

Suggested by Toast as a companion to a manjari chocolate pudding tart with sea salt and capazano olive oil, the Alvada is unusual because it is a blend of the Bual and Malmsey grapes. The combination makes for a nutty yet caramel-like flavor that is lighter than a port and goes well with pecan pie, almond cake, or anything that is deeply chocolate. Aged in oak, it is recommended by the makers that it be served in at least a six-ounce glass, so all the good smells can be properly taken in. We found it to be rich, with a sweet, lingering finish on the lips and tongue that was still smooth and tasted of some fruit.

Madeira, the Portuguese fortified wine originating from the islands of the same name, is almost always made from a single varietal, except in this case. The Madeira Islands were a regular stop for ships headed to the New World, and eventually spirits were added to the wines to lengthen their drinkability as they set off on their journeys across the globe. Exposure to warmth and movement on those trips created a wine with a new flavor and a long life, which now is replicated by carefully heating and oxidizing the product.

Snow on the way into Toast
Snow on the way into Toast

Madeira was a big hit in the 18th century, especially with America's founding fathers, who toasted the Declaration of Independence with it. So a tipple of Blandy's Alvada Madeira at snowbound Toast can be more than a delicious way to end a meal--it can also be a nod to our nation's historical drinking habits.

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