Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is Marsala wine?

Marsala wine is a fortified wine like sherry and port with a rich, smoky flavor that can either be sweet or dry. It originated from the Italian City of Marsala (Sicily).

Marsala which is made from Sicilian grapes is a famous wine fortified with brandy to convert the sugar into a higher alchol content. Marsala comes in different variety: Secco (dry), semisecco (semi-sweet), and dolce (sweet) variety. The dry style is often served was an aperitif or used to flavor poulty, meat and vegetable dishes while the semi-secco and dolce marsalas are best served with dessert.

Marsala is available in different hues depending on the the kind of grapes used.
  1. Marsalas Oro (Gold)and Ambra (amber) - made with white grape varieties such as Grillo, Catarrato, Inzolia and Domaschino.
  2. Marsala Rubino (Ruby) - made from dark skinned grapes such as Pignatello, Calabrese, Nerllo Mascalese or Nero d'Avola.

Marsala wine is classified according to the quality level and time it has been aged.
  1. Fine - the lowest level among the kind of marsala wine which contains at least 17% alcohol and 1 year wood aging;
  2. Superiore - contains at least 18% alcohol and 2 years wood aging;
  3. Superiore Riserva (also Giaribaldi Dolce-GD, London Particular-LP, or Superior Old Marsala-SOM) at least 4 years wood aging;
  4. Vergine - the highest quality among its kind, with at least 5 years wood aging.
  5. Vergine stravechhio or riserva - aged a minimum of 10 years.

Another variety of marsala wine called Marsala Speciali (also called Cremevo) is a flavored wine made with 80% Marsala plus other ingredients like eggs or coffee.

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