Monday, February 28, 2011


Marinella Dry Marsala

You may know Marsala only as a cooking wine, as in chicken Marsala, but it also makes a fairly decent sipper.

Produced in the Sicilian city of Marsala, D.O.C., this fortified wine has a long history dating back the Roman era.  Marsala is usually labeled by its relative sweetness - seccosemiseccodolce - and by quality.

Marinella Dry Marsala is labeled as “fine,” which means it received less than a year of aging.  “Fine” is the lowest level on the quality scale for Marsala.  It retails for around $13 and has an alcohol level of 17% abv, the minimum for fine Marsala.  Some higher grades are required to be at least 18%.

The Marinella shows a brownish brick or amber brown color in the glass.  It smells of alcohol at first, but just let the heat burn off for about 15 minutes to a half hour and it’s smooth sailin’.  I
love the aromatic nature.  The nose is rich with dried fruit, raisins and a caramel aspect.  It tastes of dried fruit, too - a little like raisins, but with a helping of dark berries and some apricot sneaking through.  There’s a nice acidity, and an astringency lingers on a little too long for my taste on the finish.  It is quite a lengthy finish, however.

I tried the Marsala at room temperature, but the winemaker recommends a chill - 50 degrees F - for use as an apertif or dessert wine.  It is much better this way.

I have found better dessert wines, although at $13 for a full 750ml bottle, this wine is a good buy.  I would also recommend cooking with it.  Chicken Marsala, anyone?

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