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WINE OF THE WEEK: Henriques & Henriques Sercial 10 Years Old Madeira, Portugal

£18.95–£21.50, Secret Bottle Shop, Waitrose, The Wine Society, many independents

You might not think of Madeira as a summer drink, but this is Sercial, the driest and palest style – not pale like fino sherry, but a green-amber colour much paler than the sweet brown Buals and Malmseys – and it has a briny tang that makes it really refreshing when served as it should be: a cool 12ºC or less.

Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Sercial is warmly nutty yet quiveringly fresh, with flavours that combine depth of age with a lively tang and layers of walnut, sultana, woodsmoke, orange peel and saltiness.

Another thing about Sercial that often surprises people is how well it goes with food. Not just olives, crisps, walnuts, salted almonds, spicy roast nuts and the odd sliver of Manchego, but other hard cheeses (cow’s and sheep), semi-soft or crumbly goat’s cheeses, and more substantial and elaborate dishes.

It’s a star turn with smoked and raw fish, taking smoked salmon (including stronger, peaty cures), smoked eel and smoked oysters in its stride, as well as tuna ceviche with lime, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and fresh coriander. You can also use smaller quantities of this marinade, with a bit less lime or lemon, to drizzle over smoked salmon on peppery and bitter salad leaves.

That’s not all. Sercial is a good match for bean dishes such as pasta e fagioli and black beans and chorizo in a rich tomato, leek, rose harissa and black garlic sauce.

And one final, very important reason to buy Sercial now is that swingeing increases in duty on fortified wines are coming on 1 August. On a 50cl bottle at 20% abv like this, the duty will rise by 87p to £2.85.

Madeira lives more or less for ever and a restoppered open bottle will keep for months in the fridge, so now couldn’t be a better time to stock up.

Henriques & Henriques Sercial 10 Years Old Madeira, Portgugal

for 50cl: £18.95, The Secret Bottle Shop; £20.99, Waitrose; £20.99, The General Wine Company; £21.50, The Wine Society; £21.59, Sandhams Wine Merchants; £21.95, Ffarm Vintners; £21.99, Dike & Son; go to wine-searcher for more stockists.


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