Subscribe (free) to
The 30 Second
Wine Advisor

past issues of
The 30 Second
Wine Advisor

Daily Wine Advisor starts tomorrow!
As I've announced in recent weeks, tomorrow will bring the first edition of our new DAILY "Wine Advisor Express," a special short-form version of the "Wine Advisor" featuring a quick wine tasting report or wine tip.

If you strongly prefer to receive the weekly Wine Advisor only, and haven't already let me know, please send an E-mail note to to stay on the Monday-only list. But I hope you'll give "Wine Advisor Express" a try. I think you'll find it short, sweet and digestible.

30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Have some Madeira, my dear

In a wine-loving world where Port enjoys great popularity and Sherry follows not far behind it, the strong wines of Madeira barely show up as a dot on the radar screen.

This is a surprising decline for a wine that historically was immensely popular in the early Americas, from the 13 British colonies that became the United States to Canada, the Caribbean islands and Brazil.

There were several good reasons for the early popularity of the wines from this steeply mountainous island in the Atlantic, a Portuguese colony off the northeast coast of Africa. One reason was simply that the wine tasted good, and didn't merely survive but thrived on the trans-Atlantic voyage on sailing ships, a punishing passage that was difficult for more delicate table wines in barrels or bottles.

Fortified with brandy and intentionally oxidized by exposure to air and heat on shipboard (and, later, in special winery buildings called "estufas" that sought to replicate the rigors of a sea voyage), Madeira develops a brown color and a warm, nutlike aroma and flavor - not unlike Sherry - that provides its special character and that yields an almost indestructible wine. It is no coincidence that Madeira (as noted in the June 14, 1999 "30 Second Wine Advisor," is the most practical wine to purchase if you want to keep a wine for an anniversary or birthday celebration 20 years or more in the future.

Another reason for Madeira's popularity in the Colonies had to do with economics: During the late 1600s, Britain ruled that all European wines shipped to the colonies must pass through London first, a requirement that added substantially to the length and cost of shipments, not to mention adding a British tax. Madeira, being considered a part of Africa, was not subject to this rule and could ship directly to the New World. It is no coincidence that according to legend, the signers of the Declaration of Independence toasted their work with brimming glasses of Madeira.

Unlike Port, which is invariably sweet, Madeira comes in a range of styles, depending on the specific grape, from Verdelho and Sercial (dry) to Bual (medium-sweet) and Malmsey (very sweet indeed).

Have you tried Madeira? Share your experiences by joining the chat in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, Or, if you prefer, send me E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and invite them to register for their own free weekly copy at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
"Rainwater" Madeira
Rainwater Madeira Henriques & Henriques non-vintage Rainwater Madeira ($13.99)
"Rainwater," an odd and fairly uncommon style of Madeira, may be named after the legend that it was diluted by rain during its overseas shipment. It's no watery wine, though! Very clear and rather dark brownish-amber in color, it shows pleasant nutlike aromas, like cracking walnuts and pecans. Strong, full-bodied, almost "sticky," but just barely sweet, with slight fruit sweetness cloaked behind the snappy lemon-squirt tang that's the trademark of Madeira. Probably best served lightly chilled as an aperitif before dinner, but it certainly works with a carefully chosen food match. U.S. importer: Europvin U.S.A., Emeryville, Calif. (May 6, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: An idiosyncratic but pleasant match with a smoky, earthy duck soup made with wild rice and leftover duck from the grill.

30 Second Advertising Partner:
Kendall-Jackson for Mother's Day
Mother's Day is May 13: Treat Mom to fine wines from Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates.

Visit for beautiful gift packages featuring favorites and rarities from Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Pepi and Camelot.

Select from white wine, red wine, or mixed wine packages to suit Mom's preference. All Mother's Day selections are custom-packaged with a signature burgundy box and ribbon.

Click here to view the Mother's Day Gift Selections:

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
Rate your culinary skills!
Just about all wine lovers enjoy eating good food with fine wines, but how many of us actually cook - much less enjoy it? This week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth invites you to "rate your culinary skills!"

It doesn't matter whether your kitchen talent is limited to microwaving soup or if you would like to take on the Iron Chef. Either way, please drop by the Voting Booth, to enter your reply - then take a look at the results to see how your answer compares with wine lovers around the world.

Benson Marketing Group:
Buy wine online?
Answer 9 questions, win "Wine."
Benson Marketing Group, a Napa-based marketing agency, is conducting a short survey of consumer attitudes about buying wine online.

Take a few minutes and tell them what you think. OK, they won't send the liquid wine, but they will give away four copies of The Oxford Companion to Wine (second edition), edited by Jancis Robinson, in May. (We recommended this comprehensive encyclopedia in a review last Dec. 4.)

Click to take the survey.

Favorite Wine Links:
Popular feature updated
If you've got a little time on your hands and enjoy exploring the Web for wine-related sites, I think you'll enjoy our recently revised and updated Favorite Wine Links feature, which we immodestly bill as "the intelligent wine lovers' guide to the best of wine on the Web." To start surfing, click to

For ease of use, Favorite Wine Links is now divided into 28 separate categories featuring a current total of 625 entries. Unlike most links directories, we have visited all these sites with a critical eye, listing each with a personal review and rating, seeking to organize the world of wine on the Web into a useful form that will sort out the sites that we consider best. This is a work in constant progress, of course, and just as I have relied on many friends and associates to help me build the list, I count on readers like you to keep me updated. If you would like to submit suggestions, revisions or modifictions, please send me E-mail at

30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday. Previous editions are archived on The Wine Lovers' Page. See

You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. If for any reason you no longer want to receive this publication, simply send a short E-mail to '' asking to be unsubscribed (and, if you wish, offering us any suggestions you may have as to how we could have served you better), and we'll remove your name from the list. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone. Please contact us in the same way if your E-mail address changes. And of course we welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. Send us E-mail at

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you join the interactive, international forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group.

Vol. 3, No. 16, May 7, 2001

Subscribe (free) to The 30 Second Wine Advisor