MADEIRA & MARSALA

Madeira wine is a delicious fortified white wine find that is produced on the Portuguese island of Madeira (situated in the Atlantic ocean, about 350 miles northwest of Africa’s Casablanca coast and located about 500 miles off of the coast of Portugal)

 
What is Madeira Wine?
 
Madeira is a fortified white wine that is available in several different styles of dry/sweet variations. There are four principle grape varietals that are recruited to make the best Madeira wines (Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, Malmsey). The base white wine is fortified with neutral grape spirits at differing points of fermentation, depending on the level of sweetness the maker is going for (the more sweet the Madeira, the earlier in fermentation the base wine was fortified). Madeira is unique because it is not only fortified, but oxidized and “cooked,” (technically referred to as "estufagem") making for a fairly indestructible wine option. In fact, the term “maderization” refers to the process of oxidizing and heating a wine. Madeira is typically an amber colored gem with caramel, nutty flavors.
Grapes and Styles of Madeira Wine:
Sercial – Sercial is a white wine grape that is used to produce a dry style of Madeira. Serve this style of Madeira as an aperitif with salty foods, almonds, walnuts, assorted olives, soups that are heavy on broth and the like.
Verdelho – Verdelho is a white wine grape used to make a semi-dry variation of Madeira. Serve a Verdelho with richer appetizers like prosciutto, fancy mushroom dishes or caviar.
Bual - Bual is a white grape that makes a semi-sweet Madeira. Consider serving Bual as a dessert wine with fruit-based or caramel desserts.
Malmsey – Malmsey is a white grape that typically registers sweet when made into Madeira. A Malmsey Madeira is the richest, most full-bodied Madeira style and makes for an excellent dessert wine on many fronts. Consider pairing a Malmsey Madeira with cheesecake, tiramisu, crème brulee or dark chocolate-based desserts.
Madeira - A "generic" Madeira labeling basically denotes that the wine is not made from one of the four key noble grape varietals. It will also typically come with a label "hint" as to whether you can expect it to be sweet (doce), dry (seco) or somewhere in between (meio doce - "medium sweet").
MARSALA:
Marsala wine is Italy's most famous version of fortified wine, hailing from Italy’s sunny southern region, Marsala is an ancient city on the coast of Sicily.Marsala is a higher alcohol fortified wine (usually around 17- 20%) that is available in both sweet or dry variations. While Marsala wine is often recognized more for its use in various cooking and culinary combinations than its sipping status, this has not always been the case.
How is Marsala Wine Made?
Marsala is crafted from local, indigenous white grapes – like Catarratto, Grillo (the most sought after grape for Marsala production) or the highly aromatic Inzolia grape. The ruby-colored Marsalas hail from any combination of three local red grape varietals. The fermentation of Marsala is halted by the addition of a grape brandy when the residual sugar content reaches the pre-determined levels according to the sweet/dry style the maker is shooting for. Similar to the solera system of blending various vintages of Sherry, Marsala often goes through a perpetuum system, where a series of vintage blending takes place.
Marsala is generally classified according to its color, age, alcohol content and sweetness/style
Ambra (Amber colored) – made with white grapes.
Oro (Gold hues) – made with white grapes.
Rubino (Ruby colored) – made with red grapes, like Pignatello or Nerello Mascalese.
Ambra (Amber colored) – made with white grapes.
Oro (Gold hues) – made with white grapes.
Rubino (Ruby colored) – made with red grapes, like Pignatello or Nerello Mascalese.
 
Marsala Food Pairings:
 
Smoked meats, walnuts, almonds, assorted olives and soft goat cheese are good options for a dry (secco) Marsala. Opt for chocolate-based desserts and Roquefort cheese for a sweeter Marsala wine pairing. Or just whip up a tasty baked Chicken Marsala recipe and serve the same Marsala wine with the dish.
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