Funchal is now firmly on the map as a nightlife hotspot with the Zona Velha in particular attracting a young, international crowd. After dark the action here often involves drinking in bars and live music – there are only really two night clubs on the island. With a couple of exceptions, away from Funchal things are very quiet.
Even after you’ve tasted the island’s sweet nectar, you may find yourself asking the question ‘just what is Madeira wine?’. Ideally it’s made from grapes grown on the island (otherwise it ain’t Madeiran). The basic wine is fortified with a type of grappa (usually from mainland Portugal) and left to finish in oak barrels stored in a warm place. The longer the wine is kept, the smoother the taste and the higher the price. As it is a so-called oxidised wine, vintners can even take the wine out of the bottles, clean them and pour the wine back in – the quality is unaffected.