Marsala wine, the versatile dessert wine.

Marsala wine is a fortified wine produced in the area of Marsala in Sicily.

The History of Marsala

In 1969, it achieved its Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Controlled Designation of Origin)
Very similar to Port, Madeira and Sherry, the development of Marsala wine is attributed to the English trader John Woodhouse, who introduced the wine to England where it became widely accepted. The wine is fortified, in a process called “perpetuum” also known as the “solera” method in Spanish where various vintages are blended into it. It was originally fortified with alcohol so it would be able to endure the long journeys at sea, but it is now made with alcohol (usually around 15-20%) because of its popularity across the world.

Afterwards, the businessman Vincenzo Florio bought Woodlouse’s company and further developed the Marsala wine industry, adding a more select variety of grapes to the production. Today Florio is one of the leading Marsala wine producing brands.

How many types of Marsala wine are there?

Marsala wine is made from the Catarratto, Inzolia and Grillo grapes and can vary from a golden colour classified as “Oro”, to a lovely amber colour called “Ambra” or “Rubino” a deep ruby colour.   It is classified by its age as Marsala Fine, meaning it has been aged for at least one year and is mostly used in cooking, Marsala Superiore Riserva is aged for a minimum of four to six years, Marsala Vergine aged for a minimum of five to seven years, Marsala Vergine Soleras is a blend of many vintages aged for a minimum of five years and Marsala Stravecchio aged for a minimum of ten years in oak barrels.


Marsala wine was usually served between the first and second courses of a meal as an aperitif or as a dessert wine and usually goes well chilled and served with fruits and cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Parmesan. However it is most often used in cooking and it is very popular in Italian-American cooking. Marsala wine can be used in a variety of dishes; it is a prominent ingredient in the popular Chicken Marsala dish and features in many risotto recipes, shortcakes, Zabaione also called Sabayon, along with the quintessential Italian tiramisu dessert.

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