Madeira was a popular drink in the American Revolution and therefore something Marcus drank, too, in Deborah Harkness’ new bestselling novel, Time’s Convert And so we bring you Episode 7 Wine Note: Madeira. 

In each podcast episode, we bring you a note about wine because wine is a main form of sustenance for vampires when they’re not drinking, you know, blood. It also happens that Deborah Harkness, Renaissance woman that she is, is an award-winning wine blogger and wine enthusiast. If you’ve never read Deborah’s wine blog, “Good Wine Under $20,” you should have a look. While she doesn’t write it now, it is a reminder that apparently there’s nothing this woman can’t do.

We have two more reasons we like to include a wine note in each episode. We really like wine; we like it a lot. We also happen to have our own personal sommelier, Bayard. This man knows his wine and he loves sharing his knowledge and making wine accessible to everyone. Bayard is a founding partner at Crafted Brands and we love learning from him. Here’s what Bayard said about madeira in our podcast. Or you can listen to the whole podcast and our Times’s Convert review (you know you want to).

We chose madeira for the wine note in Episode 7: The T Word because it’s something Marcus (and others in real life) drank during the time of the American Revolution in America and therefore in Time’s Convert. 

Today’s wine note comes with a side of history because contrary to popular opinion the English tea and hearty ales sloshed in pubs were not the only beverages that defined the birth of this great nation. There was wine. Our colonial ancestors loved themselves some wine. Well, and other things…but let’s focus on the wine.

No wine-quality grapes could be grown in the 13 colonies so imports were needed, and at the time there was a really strong focus on madeira, a fortified wine made on the Portuguese Madeira islands off the coast of Africa, which is funny because if you look at it on a map it’s actually off the coast of Morocco.

You’ll find madeira richly ensconced in our U.S. history. In the events leading up to the American Revolution, John Hancock’s boat, which was called the Liberty, was seized after he had unloaded a cargo of 25 pipes — yes, for those of you doing your conversions, that’s over 3,000 gallons of madeira — and a dispute arose over whether or not port duties had been paid. The seizure of the Liberty led to a riot among the people of Boston.

Upon signing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson toasted with a glass of madeira. But he wasn’t alone in his love for it. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams (and of course Marcus) are also said to have appreciated the qualities of a fine madeira.

But what is madeira? Madeira can be produced in a variety of styles, ranging from very dry wines that you typically drink as an aperatif before dinner to the very sweet wines that you usually drink with a dessert, kind of like a cognac. The biggest difference in madeira is how it’s produced. It’s actually produced by heating it and there are two different ways of heating it. There’s one called the canteiro method, which is basically heating it under the sun in barrels or large glass bottles. And then there’s the estufa method, which is basically heating it in tanks for a short period of time. So for those of you keeping your wine in direct sunlight or on top of your refrigerator, unless it’s madeira, you need to move the wine.