Marsala

  (mar-SA-luh)
Synonyms: None

Wine Name: Marsala Fine, Marsala Vergine, Marsala Vergine Stravecchio, Marsala Dolce

Background: Marsala is a fortified wine of western Sicily that is made similar to Sherry and Port. It uses the Grillo, Inzolia, Catarratto and Damaschino white grape varietals for Oro (gold) and Amber Marsala and Pignatello, Calabrese, Nerello Mascalese, and Nero d’Avola for rubino (ruby) Marsala. It contains about 15-20% alcohol by volume and comes in different sweetness levels: secco, semisecco and sweet.

Marsala wines are also classified according to their different levels of aging: Fine (one year or less), Superiore (two years), Superiore Riserva (4 years), Vergine (five years), Vergine Stravecchio Riserva (ten years). In recent decades the market for Marsala and its quality levels have declined.The most important ones as fine wines other than for cooking are Vergine and Vergine Stravecchio.

Classic Brands and Sources: Italy – Cantine Florio, Cantine Pellegrino, Lombardo, Marco de Bartoli, Woodhouse ; California – V Sattui

Characteristics:

Secco

Body – medium

Acidity – low

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – low

Semi-secco

Body – medium (+)

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – semi-sweet

Tannins – medium (-)

Semi-secco

Body – medium (+)

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – semi-sweet

Tannins – medium (-)

Sweet/Dolce

Body – full

Acidity – perceived low

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – medium


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Sweet versions are used mostly for dessert wines and cooking. Drier versions are used for apertifs and also for cooking.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Dry – Smoked meats, walnuts, almonds, assorted olives, soft goat cheese
Sweet – Chocolate cake, tarts and truffles, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, walnuts

Cheese Pairings:
Dry – Smoked gouda , Gruyere, Swiss, Fontina, Emmenthal, Danbo,
Sweet– Blue Cheese, Stilton, Brie, Camembert, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano