A fortified wine produced in Sicily's Marsala region. It is frequently used in cooking or served as an aperitif.
Different Marsala wines are classified according to their color, sweetness and the duration of their aging. The three levels of sweetness are secco (with a maximum 40 grams of residual sugar per liter), semisecco (41-100 g/l) and sweet (over 100 g/l). The color and aging classifications 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.
Selecting and Buying
dark red skin/berry grapes: Pignatello, Calabrese, Nerello Mascalese, Nero d’Avola for ruby red Marsala
Preparation and Use
Marsala wine is frequently used in cooking, and is especially prevalent in Italian restaurants in the United States. A typical Marsala sauce, for example, involves reducing the wine almost to a syrup with onions or shallots, then adding mushrooms and herbs. One of the most popular Marsala recipes is Chicken Marsala, in which flour-coated pounded chicken breast halves are braised in a mixture of Marsala, butter, olive oil, mushrooms, and spices. Marsala is also used in some risotto recipes, and is used to produce rich Italian desserts such as zabaglione, tiramisu and shortcake.
Conserving and Storing
Marsala wine was fortified with alcohol to ensure that it would last long ocean voyages, but now it is made that way because of its popularity in foreign markets.