Marsala Wine


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.


Other names: Marsala
Translations: Marsala vīna, Marsala, Vin Marsala, Marsala vina, Rượu Marsala, Wina Marsala, Marsala wijn, Marsala शराब, Vinho Marsala, Марсала, Marsala Οίνος, مارسالا النبيذ, 마르 살라 와인, Marsala víno, Маршала вино, 马沙拉葡萄酒, Vi Marsala, Marsala Vino, Marsala víno, Marsala, יין מרסלה, Marsalavin, Anggur Marsala, マルサラワイン, Marsala, Marsala, Marsala Vin, Marsala vin, Vino Marsala, Марсала, Marsala-viinin, Marsala вино

Tasting Notes

Food complements: Spicy cheeses, Fruits, Pastries

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: white skin/berry grapes: Grillo, Catarratto, Inzolia and Damaschino for golden and amber Marsala
dark red skin/berry grapes: Pignatello, Calabrese, Nerello Mascalese, Nero d’Avola for ruby red Marsala
Buying: Pretty much any regular wine shop will have marsala bottles on their shelves, along with the port and sherry.

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.[10] Marsala is also used in some risotto recipes, and is used to produce rich Italian desserts such as zabaglione, tiramisu and shortcake.[11]

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.


Marsala is the west section of Sicily, the island near the foot end of Italy. In 1798 the Sicilians managed to substitute their own wines in place of the standard rum in an English naval shipment. In those seafaring days, something had to be done to wine to allow it to last the long ocean journeys. Brandy was added to allow the wine to last longer, and to be more resistant to temperature changes. These were called "fortified wines".

History: The most creditable version of the introduction of Marsala fortified wine to a wider range of consumers is attributed to the English trader John Woodhouse. In 1773, Woodhouse landed at the port of Marsala and "discovered" the local wine produced in the region, which was aged in wooden casks and tasted similar to Spanish and Portuguese fortified wines then-popular in England.[2] Fortified Marsala wine was, and is, made using a process called in perpetuum, which is similar to the solera system used to produce Sherry in Jerez, Spain.[3]

Woodhouse recognized that the in perpetuum process raised the alcohol level and alcoholic taste of this wine while also preserving these characteristics during long distance sea travel. Woodhouse further believed that fortified Marsala wine would be popular in England. Marsala wine indeed proved so successful that Woodhouse returned to Sicily and, in 1796, began the mass production and commercialization of Marsala wine.[4]

"In 1833, the entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio, a Calabrese by birth and Palermitano by adoption, bought up great swathes of land between the two largest established Marsala producers and set to making his own vintage with even more exclusive range of grape".[5]
Florio purchased Woodhouse's firm, among others, in the late 19th century and consolidated the Marsala wine industry. Florio and Pellegrino remain the leading producers of Marsala wine today.[6]



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