Why You Should Drink Marsala, Not Just Cook with It

Marco De Bartoli Marsala

© Maurizio Gjiovovich

By Charles Antin Posted May 12, 2015

Nothing against your grandma's chicken Marsala, but the time has come to learn about a worthwhile Sicilian wine that deserves better than being reduced into a sauce.

Nothing against your grandma's chicken Marsala, but the time has come to learn about a worthwhile Sicilian wine that deserves better than being reduced into a sauce. Marsala, from Sicily, is made from white grapes, fortified and then aged in casks before release. Its toffee, fig and raisin flavors have a lot in common with those found in certain styles of sherry and Madeira. John Rankin, a buyer at Chambers Street Wines in New York, likes Marsala because with each bottle, “you get a wine that has matured in the cellar of the producer instead of having to take on the aging of the wine yourself.” And though it's fortified, Marsala pairs amazingly well with food, especially potent dishes like strong cheese, curry and the salty seafood preparations from its home region. Like Madeira and sherry, serving size is small and leftovers will last for a long time. So even if you splurge on a high-end bottle, you'll get your money's worth. Here, three Marsala producers to try.

Marco De Bartoli
The master of Marsala, his wines are cherished for their complexity and elegance. The bottles are harder to find on these shores—and pricey—but worth seeking out.

Cantine Pellegrino
The Marsala Superiore Dry is an excellent entry-level bottling from one of the region's largest family-owned wineries.

Cantine Florio
A large historic estate that makes sweet and dry Marsala at an affordable price, in addition to Passito and other sweet wines.

Related: F&W Photo Tour: Sicily
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