Definition of malmsey in US English:



  • 1A fortified Madeira wine of the sweetest type.

    • ‘Grapes such as terrentez, bastardo, malvasia, and especially bual and malmsey are as rich as fig juice and still exhibit balance and longevity.’
    • ‘Madeira is made in several layers of sweetness, from sercial (the driest) to verdelho, bual and malmsey.’
    • ‘Similar to malmsey, canary wine was a sweet white variety with a yellow tint.’
    • ‘The Malvasia grapes which produce malmsey are usually grown in the warmest locations at low altitudes on the south coast, especially around Câmara de Lobos.’
    • ‘It then quickly shows a richness and fullness that much exceeds most of the other sweet malmseys on show.’
    1. 1.1historical A strong, sweet white wine imported from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean islands.
      • ‘Linguistically and geographically, the sweet white wine called malmsey started out in Monemvasia in the Peloponnese, but its name was corrupted in French to malvoisie and further chewed about during its transfer to English.’
      • ‘George's treacherous intriguing persisted until in 1478 Edward sent him to the Tower where, according to tradition, he was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.’
      • ‘Reputed to have been drowned in a butt of malmsey, Clarence was the younger brother of Edward IV.’
      • ‘Its oriental trade, which dates from Naples's period under Byzantine rule, included the strong sweet malmsey of Crete, but Apulia produced similar wines itself, mostly for consumption in southern Italy.’


Late Middle English: from Middle Dutch malemeseye, via Old French from Monemvasia, a port in the Peloponnese, Greece. Compare with malvoisie.