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The island of Madeira was discovered in 1419.  As soon as it was discovered, its lands were cleared.  The soil proved perfect for cultivation, and vines, wheat and sugarcane were grown here.  Almost immediately, wine started to be produced as well and it is believed that this was one of the main contributors to the development of the island itself.  Only 25 years after it was colonised, the first Madeira wine was exported.

It has now existed for nearly six centuries and it has always been perfectly placed in terms of various export routes.  Naturally, the international circumstances at various times have played a big part in how well Madeira was doing in terms of wine export.  Most of the wines were exported to Europe, but the Indies and America routes were covered as well, starting in the 16th century.  These routes are still used today, meaning Madeira wines are still exported almost globally.  
At the start of the 19th century, the biggest importers of Madeira wines were France, England and the Scandinavian countries, as well as Japan.  The wine has a very high reputation and is truly prestigious, which is it has been found in very important historical effects.  For instance, did you know that when the independence of the United States of America was first celebrated in 1776, the toasts to this event were held with Madeira wine?

The wine has always been incredibly popular and has held a certain amount of status.  Hence, mythical personalities, statesmen and other hugely famous people have been enchanted by it.  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, for instance, were real connoisseurs of Madeira Wine.  When Winston Churchill visited the island of Madeira, he was completely enchanted by the wine and became a real connoisseur too.  Churchill was highly knowledgeable on wines anyway, but Madeira always held a special place in his heart.

Today, there are many varieties of Madeira wines.  The different types that exist can be identified by the various designations.  The year of harvest is very important, as this indicates the age of the wine.  How the wine was processed is also very important, as is the degree of richness.  The colour of the wine is another factor to take into consideration, as is the structure.  The colour of the wine knows five stages, starting with Muito Palido, which is the very light variety, moving on through Palido, Dourado and Meio Escuro onto Escuro, which is the darkest wine.

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