Marsala is produced using the Grillo, Inzolia, and Catarratto white grape varietals, among others. Marsala wine was traditionally served as an aperitif between the first and second courses of a meal. Contemporary diners will serve chilled with Parmesan (stravecchio), Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other spicy cheeses, with fruits or pastries, or at room temperature as a dessert wine. Marsala is sometimes discussed with another Sicilian wine, Passito di Pantelleria (Pantelleria Island‘s raisin wine).
Different Marsala wines are classified according to their color, sweetness and the duration of their aging. The three levels of sweetness are secco (with a maximum 40 grams of residual sugar per liter), semisecco’ (41-100 g/l) and sweet (over 100 g/l). The color and aging classifications are as follows:
Oro has a golden color.
Ambra has an amber color. The coloring comes from the mosto cotto sweetener added to the wine.
Rubino has a ruby color.
Fine has minimal aging, typically less than a year.
Superiore is aged at least two years.
Superiore Riserva is aged at least four years.
Vergine e/o Soleras is aged at least five years.
Vergine e/o Soleras Stravecchio e Vergine e/o Soleras Riserva is aged at least ten years.