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 old 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 patterns.

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 multiple 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:

  • the style of the wine (sweetness, grape variety)
  • the producer
  • the age of the wine

Wine grapes and styles

Each wine-grape gives a certain style to the wine, and the style is even prescribed for a number of ‘recommended’ grapes.

Sercial – dry or extra dry: high acidity, fresh, low level of sweetness

The perfect aperitif. Its fresh acidity opens your tasting 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.

Recommended products and dishes:
Nuts: almonds.
Cheese: young sheep or goat.
Vegetables: olives, avocado, onions
Fruit: green apple
Spices: ginger, wasabi
Fish: swordfish, tuna, scallops, sushi, caviar, salmon.
A typical Madeira dish: swordfish with banana and passion fruit.

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.

Recommended products and dishes:
Nuts: hazelnuts .
Cheese: ripened cheeses, nutty, somewhat sweet cheeses.
Dairy: cottage cheese, whipped cream.
Vegetables: garlic, mushrooms, baked pineapple.
Spices: curry dishes.
Meat: almost all types of meat: chicken, duck, pork, natural steak.
Perfect with smoked ham.

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.

Recommended products and dishes:
Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts .
Cheese: young boal with soft cheeses, old boal with hard cheeses.
Spices: sweet spices such as cinnamon, clove, cardamom
Herbs: fennel, fenugreek, also suitable with chili pepper.
Meat: stews, lamb, game dishes. All meat-stews with sweet elements such as stewed fruit.
Desserts: milk chocolate, butter cake.
The classic ‘bolo de mel’ from Madeira, a dark cake with molasses, chocolate, nuts and gingerbread spices.
For cigar-lovers: smoke your cigars with an old boal.

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

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

Recommended products and dishes:
Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts.
Cheese: blue cheeses, old hard cheeses, seasoned cheeses.
Spices: powerful spices such as cloves.
Fruit: tropical fruit such as mango and passion fruit, and dried fruit such as apricots.
Meat: surprisingly, it also goes well with stewed and strongly spiced meat with sweet elements.
Desserts: dark chocolate, ice cream, chocolate mouse, pastry with nuts and honey. Frasqueras (old malvasia) go well with the best Havanna 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.