Malmsey is the term used for the Malvasia grape varietal on the island of Madeira, Portugal. A 2000 year old grape varietal believed to have originated in the southwest area of Turkey and the islands between Turkey and Greece (around the Aegean Sea), it is used in the production of white wine. The grape is also grown in California, where it is known as Malvasia Bianca, and in Portugal, where it is known as Malmsey. Occasionally seen as a 100% varietal, it is most often blended with the Chianti varietal.
White grape variations of the Malvasia include: Malvasia Bianca del Chianti, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Sargdegna, and Malvasia Istiana aka Malvasia Friulana.
Also known as: Blanca-Roja, Früher Roter Malvasier, Malvoisie, Malvasia, Malvasia Bianca (California). A Red version of the Malvasia is grown in Italy and is called Malvasia Nera.
Characteristics: Produce rich, white wines a with hints of apricots, almonds, and musk. Lighter and dryer styles tend to have hints of floral also. Styles vary from dry, sweet, fortified, and sparkling. Malvasia is also used in the production of some light red wines, high in alcohol and residual sugar.
Ageing: Can be drunk young.
Serving temperature: Serve at a temperature of 50º-55º F.
Food pairings: Regarded as a dessert wine. Serve with cajun fish dishes, cannelloni, BBQ and spicey chicken, crab cakes, creole, egg dishes, gyoza, moo shoo pork, pad thai, poultry/vegetable pâtés, waldorf salad, sweet and sour pork, and won ton soup.