Marsala Italian wine has a broad reputation as a popular wine for cooking. Many people are familiar with reducing Marsala wine down to make an excellent sauce, and everybody knows that chicken Marsala is delicious. But Marsala wine is a delight all its own, and certainly does justice to a wine glass.
Why You Should Consider Marsala Wine for Drinking
Marsala wine comes from western Sicily. It’s fortified, mainly for foreign markets, which gives it about 15-20% alcohol content by volume. It’s aged in caskets for one to ten years. It has flavors that complement a number of foods, depending on the type of Marsala wine. Yes, you can cook with it, but you should probably consider sipping it with a meal.
Types of Marsala Wine
Marsala Italian wines aren’t all the same. Different types pair better with certain foods. In general, Marsala wines can go well salty foods and strong cheeses. It has natural flavors in it like apricot, vanilla, and brown sugar.
However, for a finer pairing, it’s a good idea to know what type of Marsala wine you’re dealing with. Marsala wine classifications involve color, how long it’s aged, and whether it’s a sweet or dry variety.
Without going too in depth with the naming conventions, it’s enough to know that any Marsala, aged for at least a year, is the variety most use for cooking. Anything beyond that represents the wine that’s better for drinking with a meal.
Marsala Stravecchio, aged ten or more years, represents the highest quality, and usually the most expensive. Dry, secco, variations are the most common. Sweet, dolce, varieties are also readily available. You can find Marsala wine in three colors.
- Gold, which is the most dry
- Amber, which is semi-sweet
- Ruby, which is the most sweet
The ruby varieties also use more white grapes.
Pairing Marsala Wine with Food
Marsala wine pairs well with a number of foods. In fact, Marsala is one of the few wines that can pair with most of the food items that experts consider hard to match. These things include chocolate, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
Drier Marsala pairs well with smoked meats, soft cheeses, turkey, veal, and items with savory flavorings. Sweet Marsala wine goes well with desserts, especially chocolate cakes. You can use dry Marsala wine as a substitute for sweet, but you shouldn’t use sweet as a substitute for dry. If in doubt, keep an amber Marsala wine on hand for full versatility.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to Marsala Italian than just using it make a sauce for other meals. You can certainly drink it and enjoy it with many dishes, or between dishes. Keep this in mind the next time you’re looking for something to pair with a meal.