Madeira wine-food pairing

Due to the different styles Madeira wines combine very well with all kinds of dishes . From a fresh Sercial, an aperitif wine that suits with salads, to the sweet and full bodied Malvasia , which is so beautiful with dark chocolate or cheese.

The basic of gastronomy: similar characters make the best match

The more the character of the wine matches the food, the better the combination gets.
A simple, fast way to find similar characters is to analyze the wine and food by the following method.

The palate of Madeira wine

The palate of Madeira can be approached as follows:

  • Body and mouthfeel: the wine on your tongue is thin as water,¬†or thick and filming as mango juice
  • Maturity: the wine comes across as fresh and young or old and matured
  • Intensity: the taste can be within a range from bland to intense
  • Complexity: the wine can go from simple to multitude aromas and flavors

These four criteria can also be applied to dishes.


Decisive is especially the balance of sweetness and acidity, and the degree of maturity.
Moreover, each Madeira producer make a distinctive style of wine.
The match of wine and food can be made perfect with a good choice of Madeira type, the right style of producer and the age of the wine.

Sercial – dry : high acidity, fresh, low level sweetness

The perfect aperitif. Its fresh acidity opens your tatting buds, then you’re ready to go.
The right choice for salads with vinaigrette and fresh starters.
Cooking methods: raw, marinating, baking, grilling without wood, pickles, salty food

Featured products and dishes:
Nuts: almonds.
Cheese: young sheep or goat.
Fish: swordfish, scallops, sushi.
Fruit: green apple, avocado.
Olives, onions and garlic, ginger and wasabi

Verdelho – medium dry : balance

Holds a nice balance of freshness and ripe flavors.
Suitable both as an aperitif or accompany to main courses.
Culinary the easiest deployable Madeira.
Cooking methods: drying, smoking, grilling, baking, roasting.

Featured products and dishes:
Nuts: hazelnuts .
Cheese: cottage cheese, ripened cheeses, nut-like cheeses.
Fish: smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail with granny smith, mussels, sardines.
Creamy, greasy: olives, creamy soup, mushrooms.
Spices: curry dishes .
Meat: virtually all types of meat: chicken, duck, pork, beef natural. Perfect with smoked ham .
Traditional Madeira dish: swordfish with banana and passion fruit. Baked pineapple.

Boal / Bual – medium sweet : matured

Matured, fruity, full-bodied.
The maturity of a Boal makes it very suitable for matching food with a mature character.
Cooking methods: braising, baking, roasting, frying, gratin.

Featured products and dishes:
Nuts: walnuts .
Cheese: (very) old hard cheeses, cheeses with herbs or spices like cloves .
Meat: stews, lamb, game dishes. All meat stews with sweet elements such as stewed fruit .
Spices: sweet spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and spices such as fennel, fenugreek.
Desserts: dark chocolate brownies.

Malvasia / Malmsey – sweet: medium acidity, high sugar, full-bodied

Very ripe, full bodied and a clear influence of the maturation of the natural sugars.
Cooking methods: braising, baking, frying.

Featured products and dishes:
Nuts : All nuts, mixes with fruit, honey, spices, caramel.
Cheese: blue cheeses.
Meat: surprisingly well suiting stewed meat with sweet and spicy elements.
Intense, tasteful and fully sweet desserts, also with spicy desserts.
Desserts: dark chocolate, dark chocolate mousse, ice cream, pastry with nuts and honey, strawberries.

Incidentally Malvasia frasquera’s are also delicious with cigars.


Madeira with a light palette and a light color.
In the traditional way it is combined with white chocolate, fruit, and preserved grapefruit.

Very old Madeira’s

For very old (and expensive) Madeira ‘s 40 years or older we recommend no dishes or something simple, for example plain almonds.
These wines are very nicely balanced and complex and have a very long aftertaste. The best is to enjoy this in a pure state, just sip of it.