Marsala Wine D.O.C.
Marsala D.O.C. wine is just a wine made in a town by the same name; except it’s not! Marsala DOC wine it’s a blend that, just like the people who make it do in their own lives, balances itself perfectly. Its taste and aroma swirls around in both cup and mouth allowing you to enjoy and experience something that is far more than just wine.
Marsala wine is Italy's most famous version of fortified wine, greeting from Italy’s sunny southern region, Marsala is an ancient city on the coast of Sicily. Like its other cousins - Port, Sherry and Madeira, Marsala is a higher alcohol fortified wine (usually around 17- 20%) that is available in both sweet and dry variations. While Marsala wine is often recognized more for its use in various cooking and culinary combinations than its sipping status, this has not always been the case.
A little bit of history:
During the early 1800s, England had a significant military contingent established in Marsala in response to Napolean and the French occupation of Italy. Consequently, as the British discovered the regional wine and wanted to ship it back to the homeland, they employed the same strategy used to make Port in Portugal. Basically by adding a little grape brandy to the local still wine they obtained a fortified wine that can endure the arduous adventure of ocean shipping without becoming vinegar. Fun fact: during the prohibition era Marsala was the only alcoholic beverage legally sold in America, because it was sold in pharmacies as a heart tonic. Suggested dosage was: One glass after lunch and one after dinner.
How Marsala Wine is made:
Marsala is made from local, native white grapes – like Catarratto, Grillo (the most sought grape for Marsala production) and/or the highly aromatic Inzolia grape. The ruby-colored Marsalas is derived from any combination of three local red grape varieties. The fermentation of Marsala is stopped by the addition of a grape brandy when the residual sugar content reaches the pre-determined levels according to the sweet/dry style the maker is aiming for. This process is similar to the solera system. Marsala often goes through a perpetual system, where each year the same amount taken from the barrel gets replaced by new blended wine.
Marsala Color Classifications:
•Ambra (Amber colored) – made with white grapes.
•Oro (Gold tones) – made with white grapes.
•Rubino (Ruby colored) – made with red grapes, like Perricone or Nerello Mascalese.
Marsala Age Classifications
•Marsala Fine – aged minimum of one year. This is a typical cooking wine classification.
•Marsala Superiore – aged for two to three years in oak.
•Marsala Superiore Riserva – aged four to six years in oak. Great for either an aperitif or dessert.
•Marsala Vergine – aged for five to seven years in oak.
•Marsala Vergine Soleras – minimum five years of aging and substituting each year the old wine with the new one.
•Marsala Stravecchio – aged a minimum of 10 years in oak.
The Alcohol Content is between 17 – 18% by volume.
Marsala can be: sweet, semi-sweet, dry, semi-dry.
Secco (dry): Smoked meats, walnuts, almonds, assorted olives and soft goat cheese.
Dolce (sweet): Chocolate-based desserts and Roquefort cheese.
Fine: base for cocktails or cooking.