/meuh dear"euh, -dair"euh/; for 1, 2, 5 also Port. /mah de"rddeuh/, n.
1. a group of eight islands off the NW coast of Africa, part of Portugal. 270,000; 308 sq. mi. (798 sq. km). Cap.: Funchal.
2. the chief island of this group. 286 sq. mi. (741 sq. km).
3. (often l.c.) a rich, strong white or amber wine, resembling sherry, made there.
4. (often l.c.) a similar wine made elsewhere.
5. a river in W Brazil flowing NE to the Amazon: chief tributary of the Amazon. 2100 mi. (3380 km) long.

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      fortified wine from the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic. Because the island was a customary port-of-call on the trade routes between Europe and the New World, this durable wine was very popular in colonial America.

      Madeira wine is fortified with brandy during fermentation to raise its alcoholic content to 18–20 percent. Madeiras, ranging from dry to sweet, derive their distinctive, rich character from the volcanic soil of the island's vineyards (some of the most steeply terraced in the world) and from a unique process of aging in baking rooms, or estufas, for several months after fermentation. This accelerated aging process was adopted after the discovery that the wines benefited from the prolonged heat of storage that they underwent during tropical voyages. Madeira is also aged in oak casks, and wines of different ages may be blended before bottling.

      Sercial is the driest Madeira, followed in increasing degree of sweetness by Verdelho, Bual (and a pale version called Rainwater), and Malmsey. Madeira is very long-lived, some varieties remaining sound and unfaded for as long as 100 years.

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Universalium. 2010.

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