Marsala might just be the secret weapon to take your entertaining menus up to the sublime!
Marsala available in North America is a fortified wine similar to Port, Madeira or Sherry. It is produced around the city of Marsala in Sicily. It can be made from white or red grapes. White grape varieties are Grillo, Inzolia, or Catarratto. Red varieties are Perricone, Calabrese, Nero d’Avola or Nerello Mascalese. Coloring can be golden, amber or ruby.
Marsala is marketed with 3 different levels of sweetness and various amounts of aging:
- Secco (Dry) maximum 40 grams of residual sugar per litre
- Semi-Secco (Semi-Dry) 41-100 with 40 grams of residual sugar per litre
- Sweet > 100 grams of residual sugar per litre
- Fine- aged < 1year
- Superiore- aged at least 2 years
- Superiore Riserva aged at least 4 years
- Vergine e/o Solera – aged at least 5 years
- Vergine e/o Solera Stravecchio or Vergine e/o Solera Riserva- aged at least 10 years
In Sicily Marsala is traditionally served as an aperitif between first and 2nd course of a meal. More recently dry Marsalas may be served chilled with cheeses such as Parmesan, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or other spicy cheeses and fruits. Sweet Marsala may also be served at room temperature as a dessert wine.
In North America Marsala is primarily used in cooking with Chicken Marsala being the most well known.
Here are a few recipes that benefit immensely from the addition of Marsala!
These Veal Shells with Marsala and Vermouth get rave reviews every time I serve them. I have even had requests to cater them!
Mushroom Marsala Risotto ( it doesn't photograph well but it is DELICIOUS!)
Ps... the famous Chicken Marengo... coming soon!