Skip to main content

Let yourself be inebriated by the scents of Marsala

The birth of Marsala wine, as we know it today, is the result of a particular chain of events. It was the intuition of brilliant businessmen and the great potential of a treasure that has remained hidden for centuries.

Its history is rather curious as the fame of the wine is attributed to an Englishman named John Woodhouse, who, in 1773, was forced to dock at the port of Marsala due to a strong storm.

He stayed in one of the many taverns in the city, and he was able to taste the best wine produced by the local farmers: the perpetuum. Woodhouse immediately realized that the taste, thanks to its aging in oak barrels, was so close to the Spanish and Portuguese wines of that period. He bought 50 barrels, added some brandy to the perpetuum to avoid tampering along the way, and sent them to Liverpool to test the market.

Luckily what came was so popular in England that Mr. Woodhouse was soon able to buy all the local wine that poor peasants in misery could sell him.  He started building his own wine factories and even began developing the port of Marsala with the great luck he made.

Thus was born Marsala, the first DOC fortified wine in Sicilian wine history.

Types of Marsala wine:

Marsala Vergine (Virgin Marsala) is derived only from white grapes and after fermentation, only ethanol is added of vitivinicoltura origin (cultural wines of the grapevine) and / or wine brandy.

However, the "virgin" Marsala wine must be aged with the soleras method in order to be marketed in the following types:

  • Virgin Marsala is also called Marsala soleras with aging for at least five years;
  • The Marsala virgin reserve is also called Marsala soleras reserve with aging of at least ten years.

After fermentation, we have Marsala Conciato (Tanned Marsala) to which was added:

  • ethanol
  • cooked - is a must - which will affect the aromas and color of the wine.
  • mistella (or siphon) - is a mixture of late grape that must be mixed because it affects the sugar content and aromas; and it is concentrated - also a must - to give greater softness to the ethanol that is added in order to block fermentation.

"Tanned" Marsala must also be subjected to aging or, "invecchiamento," in order to be marketed in the following types:

  • Marsala fine, at least 1 year of aging.
  • Marsala Superiore, aged for at least 2 years.
  • Marsala Superiore Riserva, aged for at least 4 years.

Each of the following names gives rise to further subdivisions that take color into account:

  • gold, produced from white berried grapes; the addition of cooked must is prohibited.
  • amber, produced from white berried grapes; with the addition of cooked must is greater than 1%.
  • ruby, produced from black berried grapes, with the possible addition of a maximum of 30% of white berried grapes; the addition of cooked must is prohibited.

and residual sugar:

  • dry, with sugars lower than 40 gr. per liter.
  • semi-dry, with sugars exceeding 40 gr. per liter and less than 100 gr. per liter.
  • sweet, with sugars exceeding 100 gr. per liter.

Signup to our Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on the best suggestions for discovering Marsala!