What Is Marsala Wine? A Sicilian Classic
Are you curious about Marsala wine? Continue reading to learn more about how it can enhance the quality of your meals.
Although you may not have had a glass of Marsala wine, you may have come across it in a dish like chicken Marsala. Chicken and mushrooms are cooked in a creamy sauce, and Marsala Wine enhances its flavor.
However, you don’t have to use Marsala wine strictly for cooking. In today’s article, we’ll learn more about this wine, how it’s made, and the different types. Read on to learn more.
What Is Marsala Wine?
Marsala wine is a fortified wine that gets produced near the town of Marsala on the island of Sicily, Italy. It’s made with local variations of white grapes, although you can sometimes use red grapes for the blend.
Most people know Marsala wine for its cooking purposes. However, sipping on high-quality Marsala wine is becoming increasingly popular. You can use it as an aperitif to stimulate your appetite or as a digestif after your meal.
Since it’s a fortified wine, Marsala wine has a higher alcoholic content than standard wines, usually between 15-20%. So if you decide to serve it at your next gathering, ensure that you use small portions.
How Is Marsala Wine Made?
Like all winemaking, after the grapes are harvested and crushed, fermenting can begin. However, if the winemaker wants to make a sweet or dry marsala wine, the fermentation process will be interrupted by fortifying.
If fortification is done before fermentation is complete, more residual sugar gets produced, resulting in a sweeter wine. However, if the spirits get added to the wine after fermentation, the product will be a dry wine with lower sugar content.
With fortification, Marsala wines can last between 4-6 months once they’re opened. However, be wary that if you keep it longer than six months, it will start to lose its fragrance and flavor. So ensure that you store it in a cool, dark place to enhance its shelf life.
What Are the Different Variations Of Marsala Wine?
As we mentioned above, there are different variations of Marsala wines. They are classified by their sweetness levels, as well as their color and age. Let’s take a look at a few variations you may come across:
- Secco: The driest type of Marsala wine consisting of less than 40 grams of residual sugar
- Semi-Secco: A semi-sweet wine with 50 to 100 grams of residual sugar per liter
- Dolce: The sweetest Marsala wine with more than 100 grams of residual sugar
So before you cook that next unique dish, take a look at the label to see the wine’s sweetness levels to determine how the taste will be affected. However, another factor you’ll need to consider is color. Some different color Marsala wine hues you’ll see are:
- Ambra (Amber): Made with white grapes and tastes like a combination of nuts and dried fruit
- Rubino (Ruby): The ruby hue for this type of Marsala wine comes from a blend of various red grapes resulting in a fruity fragrance and flavor
- Oro (Gold): Produced with white grapes, this Marsala wine tastes like a combination of vanilla and hazelnuts.
The last deciding factor you’ll have to consider before selecting a Marsala wine is its age. Younger wines are primarily used for cooking. But older Marsala wines are better used for sipping either before or after a meal. So be on the lookout for various classifications such as:
- Fine: Has only aged for at least one year
- Superiore: Has aged for more than two years but no more than three
- Superiore Riserva: Aged between 4-6 years
- Soleras or Vergine: Aged between 5-7 years
- Stravecchio: Has aged for more than ten years and has no added sugar
As you can see, there are various types of Marsala wine to choose from. It’s imperative to do your research to make sure the wine matches the dishes you’re serving and enhances the quality of your meal.
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Enjoying Marsala Wine
Enjoying wine may seem like a simple concept; you buy a bottle that looks and sounds good, then drink it responsibly. However, since Marsala wine is slightly different from traditional wine, there are a few ways to maximize your experience while drinking it.
Serve At The Correct Temperature
When serving Marsala while, it’s best to follow standard wine serving guidelines. For drier wines, serve at a temperature between 55-60 degrees to maintain freshness.
However, sweeter Marsala wines are better served at room temperature or slightly cooler.
Pair With The Right Foods
As we mentioned above, one of the factors you’ll need to consider when drinking Marsala wine is the food you’ll be eating. For example, secco and semi-secco Marsala wines taste better when paired with fruits, pastries, nuts, and cheeses.
However, dolce Marsala wines pair better with most desserts, especially those involving chocolate.
Your Type Of Glass
It may sound silly, but the type of glass you drink out of will change your wine drinking experience. Studies have shown that the glass shape affects how the wine vapors rise, affecting your taste and smell.
So if you’re drinking a sweeter Marsala wine, use a port glass or a snifter, which you use to serve brandy. It will help reduce evaporation and increase the aroma of the wine.
If you’re drinking a drier wine, you can use a standard wine glass. However, ensure you leave enough space in the glass for the wine to swirl. Swirling the glass before you sip allows the wine to breathe and release its fragrance.
Make Marsala Wine a Staple In Your Home
Marsala wine is a classic wine used by may for cooking. However, as you’ve learned today, there is a lot more to Marsala wine than meets the eye.
There are different variations of Marsala wine that come in different colors, ages, and tastes. You can also serve it before or after dinner to help with your appetite. The only thing left for you to do is find your favorite win and enhance your palette.
To learn more about wine and other ways to increase your drinking experience, contact Taste of Purple today!