White and sparkling wines are typically served chilled, while red is served at room temperature and sweet red wines with carbonation are best served chilled as well. I discovered that this is something that even many Italians don’t know. Maybe it’s a sign that they aren’t very interested in alcoholic beverages.
Different kinds of wine are also meant to be sipped from different kinds of glasses, but it’s difficult for the average household to get that deeply into it, or keep all of those kinds of glasses on hand. In general, though, dry sparkling wines should be served as aperitifs in a tall, slim glass called a flute that helps the bubbles and chill to last longer and the flavors to be better enjoyed. White wine is served in a glass with a bit wider mouth, red wine in even wider-mouthed glasses, and sweet sparkling wine (served with dessert) in wide, shallow glasses. It’s a very classy thing to do, and shows that you really know your wine.
Incidentally, rosés are also enjoyed chilled. Like their name suggests, rosés are rosy-colored wines that are mellower than whites, but without the distinctive aromas of the reds. They’re a lovely middle ground, offering subtle, unclassifiable characteristics that pair well with nearly everything—making them handy when you don’t know what else to choose…
Meanwhile, do you ever come across a wine-like beverage that doesn’t fit any of these categories—white, rosé, or red? Something like a Portuguese port or a Sicilian marsala?
Marsala wine is bold in color, aroma, and taste—a specialty product of the Sicilian town of Marsala. To oversimplify, it’s wine that’s been made to an even stronger concentration of alcohol. It’s said that the Sicilians made their regular wine stronger as a way to keep it fresh on long ocean journeys when it was shipped out of Italy.
The island of Sicily is dotted with towns that are fascinating in terms of their history and culture, and because of its wine, Marsala is one of the most important. It has Italy’s only university with a winemaking department, for example, which brings a high concentration of winemakers to the area. It also has salt farms and an abundant tuna catch, and is a town with enough delicious tuna to impress even Japanese maguro connoisseurs.
Fina, one of the top Marsala wineries, opens its cellars once a year and holds a string of events morning to night. Families from all over Sicily visit the cellar during this time, making it as crowded as an amusement park. Entertainers come to delight the children, a makeshift outdoor stage is set up for all kinds of performances, and visitors gather in front of the wine cellars to enjoy local specialty dishes, tasting glasses in hand. It’s a picturesque scene with fun events.
And the most important visitors to the winery are apparently the Japanese! Last year, they commemorated their presence by making a new rosé called Hanami. What an honor, right?