My choice? A Marsala. I was looking for something a little different; port was too obvious, an excellent Australian fortified muscat I have detailed before and while there were several likely candidates sampled at a recent tasting I can’t recall ever sampling a Marsala. Then I noted that I could use some in a recipe for Guinea Fowl and the decision was sealed!
Produced on the western end of Sicily, Marsala is a fortified wine; brandy is added during the production process, much in the same way as sherry is made. Rather than using a solera system, Marsala is aged in simple casks. The time spent aging dictates the quality; 1 year and the wine is Marsala Fine, 2 years minimum and it is Marsala Superiore and so on up to 10 years aging with the grand Marsala Vergine Stravecchjio o Riserva.
The level of sweetness can vary too – there are dry (Secco) versions and Semisecco (off-dry) and Dolce (Sweet). My bottle is labeled sweet but was not as sweet or as sticky as I was expecting.
It is a shame that this old and illustrious style of wine is declining. Despite an illustrious past Marsala seems relegated to culinary uses – well in the UK at least. There appears to be just the one brand and this one wine readily available on the high street. More details on Marsala at Delia Online. With the chocolate cake it was fine, a little more sweetness would have helped, as would a larger slug in the cake!
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