Port and Madeira wines are seamless matches for traditional Thanksgiving desserts. If you’re finishing dinner with a cheese course, the extra tannin in an aged tawny port will contrast beautifully, while Madeira is perfect to sip with pecan or pumpkin pie.
At local restaurants, there are good selections of both by the glass. Chops City Grill offers the 20-year-old tawny from Sandeman and Taylor Fladgate and the 1985 vintage Dow’s. The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, serves 20- and 30-year-old tawnies from Taylor Fladgate, as well as Dow’s 40-year-old version; Madeira wines include D’Oliveira’s 1907 Sercial (dry) and 1983 Boal (semi-sweet). Meanwhile, Sal e Pepe on Marco Island carries a range of tawnies aged from 10 to 40 years, and vintage ports from Graham’s (1980 and 1994).
At Bleu Provence, indulge in the 10-year tawny from Quinta da Noval or the 20- and 30-year versions from Niepoort. Selections by the bottle include vintage ports and vintage tawnies dating back to 1934.
When making a choice, remember tawnies receive their aging in cask, whereas vintage port is bottled with a shorter aging period so it’s sweeter. With Madeira, there are four gradations from dry to sweet. While palates vary, most experts will tell you a dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert it accompanies.