The History and Production of Marsala Wine
It became popular in 1773 after being introduced to the wider European market by an Englishman named John Woodhouse. Woodhouse realized that fortified wines from Spain and Portugal were very popular and aimed to do the same with Marsala. Vincenzo Florio was an important producer and exporter during the mid 1800s.
Marsala’s high alcohol content allowed it to be transported long distances before refrigeration. It is made in a very similar way to Sherry in Jerez, Spain. Rather than using the solera system, Marsala is made in perpetuum. Several obscure white grape varietals are used, including Inzolia, Grillo and Catarratto.
Marsala has DOC status in Italy and is made in several different quality levels. Beginning with the least expensive, these are: Fine, Superiore, Superiore Riserva, Vergine e/o Soleras and Vergine e/o Soleras Stravecchio e Vergine e/o Soleras Riserva. The major distinction is how long these wines have been aged; this ranges from under a year to over 10 years.
With meals, Marsala is usually served after the first course. It is also a very popular ingredient in cooking and is often used in sauces. Chicken Marsala is a famous recipe that uses the wine.
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