Outside of the grape type used, the flavour profile and quality of the Madeira wine is greatly influenced by the length of time it has been aged for, with it being possible to get wines aged for a minimum of three years right up to multi-vintage blends of twenty to thirty year old Madeira.
Some of the prominent flavours present often include caramel, hazelnut, peach, orange peel, smoke, and many examples of various fresh or dried fruit.
Dry style sercial Madeiras are often served chilled alongside finger food and starters, including olives, garlic, or salads with vinaigrette sauces.
Moving along the scale, medium-dry verdelho Madeira wines are often served with a variety of finger food options, including smoked salmon or cottage cheese, as well as main courses, such as curry or grilled chicken dishes.
Bottles of medium-sweet boal Madeira, on the other hand, are often best matched with aged cheeses, lamb dishes, or any dish that contains a lot of herbs or exotic spices.
Finally, sweet style malsavia Madeira can be sublimely matched with strong blue cheeses, hotly spiced dishes, and dark chocolate.
Marsala, which is similar to Sherry and Madeira in that it can range from dry to sweet in its taste and style, is a fortified wine from the Italian island of Sicily.
It can be made with a number of different white or red grape varietals, including nero d’avola, grillo, inzolia, or pignatello, just to name a few, producing bottles of wine that can come with a range of colours, levels of sweetness, and prominent flavours.
Effectively separating bottles of marsala can be achieved along three main traits, including how long they're aged for, they're colour, and how sweet they are, all of which is usually indicated on the label.
A particular bottle can range in its levels of sweetness from dry, semi-sweet, to sweet, it can be coloured gold, amber, or ruby, and it can have five different age classifications, beginning at minimum one year and going right up to more than ten years.
Most bottles of marsala produced and sold fall into the minimum one year ageing grade, with these often being used as cooking wine, although some premium and complex examples of marsala, which are aged for a minimum of ten years, are ideally consumed as a sipping beverage.