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Making the Wine


In the past, the must was emptied into barrels or vats where, as a general rule, it fermented for about two months. When fermentation finished the wines were separated from the dregs and transferred to other casks, to be aged in either the “estufa” or “canteiro” method. Up until the mid 18th century, the making of the wine consisted of these steps and then subsequent blending with older wine. But from this period onwards, the process of mixing the wine with aguardente became common.


The custom of the “mixing” the wine with aguardente used to take place before heating, but later on it came to be added after this. At the beginning of the 19th century, the habit was to use French grape brandy; however, in 1822 the importing of this was prohibited so alcohol made on the island was used, which was of an inferior quality. Later on, during the 20th century alcohol extracted from sugar-cane was used and from the middle of the century onwards grape spirit replaced this.