Marsala is a fortified wine made with grapes grown in and around the town of Marsala, Sicily, and was one of the first wines to be granted DOC status and the first in Sicily. The name Marsala, too often associated to cheap cooking wine, is much more and it is made of different wines depending on the grapes used and the ageing, but also the wine making process followed and the residual sugars.
The first differentiation is between Marsala made with white grape varieties, grillo, cataratto and Inzolia the mains, called Marsala Oro and Ambra, and Marsala made with red grape varieties, nero d’avola, nerello mascalese and pignatello, called Marsala Rubino.
Marsala is then differentiated based on the ageing, and the different labels are:
• Marsala Fine: aged for one year of which 8 months in barrels. Minimum alchool content 17° and available as Oro, Ambra and Rubino.
• Marsala Superiore: aged for 2 years in barrels and with a minimum alcohol content of 18°
• Marsala Superiore Riserva: aged for 4 years in barrels and with a minimum alcohol content of 18°
• Marsala Vergine, “Soleras”: aged for 5 years in barrels and with a minimum alcohol content of 18°
• Marsala Vergine, “Soleras” stravecchio o Riserva: this is the best and rarest Marsala, and it is aged for 10 years.
The last classification for Marsala is based on the residual sugars, and divides the wines into dry, semi dry and sweet Marsala.
If you would like to know more, read about Andrea’s visit to Marsala.