Marsala wine is produced in the region surrounding the city of Marsala in Sicily, Italy. In early wine export times something had to be done to the wine to allow it to last on the long ocean journeys. Brandy was added to the wine to make it last longer, and more resistant to temperature changes. These wines became known as “fortified wines”.
Marsala is a fortified wine produced using the following grapes:
White skin/berry grapes: Grillo, Catarratto , Inzolia and Damaschino. These are used to produce golden and amber Marsala.
Dark red skin/berry grapes: Alabrese, Pignatello, Nero d’Avola , Nerello Mascalese. These are used to produce ruby red Marsala
There are two basic varieties of Marsala, sweet and dry, although the dry still tends to have a fair amount of residual sugar.
The color and aging classifications for Masala are as follows: Oro has a golden color. Ambra has an amber color. The coloring comes from the mosto cotto sweetener added to the wine. Rubino has a ruby color. Fine has minimal aging, typically less than a year. Superiore is aged at least two years. Superiore Riserva is aged at least four years. Vergine e/o Soleras is aged at least five years. Vergine e/o Soleras Stravecchio e Vergine e/o Soleras Riserva is aged at least ten years
Like other great fortiﬁed wines such as sherry and port, Marsala wines developed historically not as a drink for the local people, but as a wine primarily intended for export to the British Empire.
In 1773 English trader John Woodhouse arrived at the port of Marsala and discovered the local wine produced tasted similar to the Portuguese and Spanish fortified wines that were popular in England. These wines were produced using the solera system, which is a melding of different vintages, from different barrels to create the wine. Woodhouse believed that fortified Marsala, other than keeping well on the long ocean journey, would be well received by the English market. He was right and the wine became so successful that he returned to Sicily in 1796 and began the mass production and distribution of Marsala wine.
In 1883 Italian born Vincenzo Florio began buying land and started producing his own Marsala. He later purchased, amongst others, Woodhouse's wine company and consolidated the Marsala wine industry. Florio and Pellegrino remain the leading producers of Marsala wines to this day.
This wine is produced in the region surrounding the city of Marsala, on the island of Sicily, Italy. The climate here is Mediterranean with warm to hot dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters.
Although many people only know Marsala as a wine used in cooking, fine drinking examples of this wine can be found. They can be either sweet or dry (dry tend to still retain a lot of residual sugars). This wine was traditionally served between the first and second courses of a meal. It tends to have a strong alcohol taste, with flavors of raisins. They are best served on their own, or with tasty cheeses.