Best Wine with Chicken Marsala

Wine is a food’s best companion, and Chicken Marsala is no exception. However, pairing wines with this dish can be a little tricky. The difficulty arises because the sauce is made using Marsala, a fortified wine from Sicily.

To complicate matters further, it can also be either dry or sweet. So you need to know what wine will best pair with whatever type of Marsala is in the recipe. Fortunately, I have done the hard work for you! This article explains what you should use and why.

After all, you want to enjoy the taste of mushrooms and rich cream sauce but also have an opportunity to showcase the flavor of your chosen wine.

What is Marsala wine?

Marsala wine is a fortified wine from the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily. It is often found as an ingredient or flavoring agent in many dishes and can be enjoyed on its own too.

Although dry red wines are generally the best pairing for Chicken Marsala, you might want to try using a sweet white wine instead. We recommend pairing your dish with a Riesling or Chardonnay; these will provide just enough acidity to cut through all of that buttery richness while still letting all those other flavors shine through.

Pairing with Marsala sauces

Dry Marsala

The best wines for pairing with dry Marsala sauce are those with higher levels of acidity. This helps to cut through the richness of the sauce, as well as bring out all those other flavors present in your dish. Try pairing dry Marsala with a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio; these wines are light and fruit-forward enough that they won’t clash with the flavor profile of your meal. They will also provide just enough acidity to make it taste even better than it did before.

Sweet Marsala

The best wines to pair with sweet marsala sauce are those that have higher levels of alcohol, which will help to cut through the sweetness of the sauce. Try pairing it with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chianti. These red wines are full in body and robust enough to stand up against the richness of your dish.

Another option would be a Barolo (made from grapes grown in the Piedmont region of Italy). These are both reds that are low in acidity and high in tannins which makes them perfect for pairing with Chicken Marsala.

Best Wines For Chicken Marsala

Let’s take a look at the wines that pair best with Chicken Marsala.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red grape that works well with the mushrooms and umami flavors in Chicken Marsala. The wine’s bolder taste will help balance out the spices from the chicken.

Umami is a savory taste found in foods like mushrooms, soy sauce, and aged cheeses. When you’re pairing wine with your meal, look for wines that are rich in tannins (like cabernet sauvignon) or high acidity levels so they can cut through strong sauces or umami flavors like those found in mushrooms.

Here are some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with your Chicken Marsala:

Substance ‘Cs’ Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

From the winery itself, “Classic Cabernet Sauvignon. Currant, blackberry, cigar box with touches of chocolate, cedar, and pencil lead. Full flavored & just so damn good. I should raise the price!”

Château Lynch-BagesPauillac (Grand Cru Classé) 2016

It exhibits a deep red color with notes of dark fruit, cassis, blackcurrants, and a distinctive hint of mint. On the palate, it is full in body with ripe tannins and cassis throughout. The finish is long.

Flat Top Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It is distinctly dark fruit on the palate with cocoa and vanilla notes. It has gentle spices like nutmeg and cassis. The finish is smooth, long, and velvety.

Rosé

Marsala can be paired with a dry rosé, and as most Chicken Marsala are served warm, a slightly sweet rosé will work, too. If you have time to open it the night before, that’s an added bonus.

If you are looking for a rosé then here are some great examples:

RUMOR Rosé (Provence, France)

This is a very elegant, drinkable blush pink rosé. It has light red berry fruit and sharp citrus aromas, with a crisp, dry refreshing finish. It pairs with cured meats, fish, pasta, salads, and shellfish.

Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé of Pinot Noir (California)

This Pinot Noir blush from the Russian River Valley is a welcome change from the standard Grenache-based rosés you are probably used to. It has a bright acidity with hints of red berry fruits, pear, and stone fruit flavors. 

Whispering Angel Rosé (Provence, France)

This is an award-winning benchmark dry rose from Chateau d’EsclansinProvence.  It has notes of strawberry, raspberry, and peach with refreshing citrus and a smooth, dry finish.  Goes very well with fish dishes.

Chianti or Barbera d’Asti

If you want to serve an Italian wine with chicken marsala, try Chianti or Barbera d’Asti. Both are red wines made in Italy and are great choices for pairing with your meal.

Chianti is a Tuscan wine that’s made from Sangiovese grapes, which have a high acidity level (acidic wines tend to go best with food).

Barbera is also Tuscan, but it’s made from Nebbiolo grapes; this variety has more tannin than Sangiovese and creates different flavors when fermented. Both of these varieties fall under the category of “Barolo” in the Piedmont region of Italy. This means they’ve been aged longer than most other Italian vintages, making them ideal for pairing with smoky dishes like Chicken Marsala.

Here are some recommendations for Chianti:

Vigna Graspoli 2018 – Lamole di Lamole

The wine’s color is deep ruby, and the nose gives off hints of violet, iris flowers, and berries. Aromatic herbs and sweet spices are also present. The taste is elegant with very fine tannins that give it a powerful but smooth finish.

Il Poggio 2017 – Monsanto Castle

Il Poggio Chianti Classico has a deep red color and an aroma that combines violet, black cherry, and spices. It tastes warm and rich with a long finish. It pairs well with a variety of grilled meats, stews, and aged cheeses.

Grand Selection 2019 – Brancaia

The color is deep ruby red. On the nose, it is extremely elegant with scents of wild fruits and cherry chocolate, licorice, and Caribbean cedar. The taste is rich and furrowed by precise and well-dissolved tannins. The finish is long.

If you prefer to try a Barbera d’Asti, I recommend the following:

G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2017

This particular Barbera exhibits a ruby red color with violet hues. It has an aroma that is made up of ripe, velvety fruits with flowers and licorice along with hints of mineral notes. It boasts a complex bouquet and has a lingering, fruity finish.

Oak Farm Barbera 2016

(from the vineyard ) This Barbera has a deep garnet red color with inviting aromas of cherry, hibiscus tea, pomegranate, and mixed spices. Medium bodied and flavors of ripe plum, and bing cherries. This wine’s silky mid-palate brightens up the finish with its lively acidity and soft tannins.

Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba

The nose of this wine has a complex mix of cherry, plum, and savory notes. The palate is strong but well-balanced like many Barbera d’Asti wines. A delightful Barbera.

Sweet Wine Pairings

Gewurztraminer

If you are looking for a sweet wine to pair with your meal, look no further than Gewurztraminer. This sweet wine is a great match for sweet dishes like Chicken Marsala. Richer and bolder in flavor than a standard Riesling, Gewurztraminers tend to be more aromatic than other wines made with the same grape variety.

Try one of these for a decent pairing:

Domaine Specht 2019 (Alsace)

The wine’s color is pale straw. The nose has aromas of hazelnuts and mint, with a hint of minerality. When tasted, this wine is very floral with notes alluding to minerals.

Joseph Cattin 2020 Hatschbourg Grand Cru (Alsace)

The nose of this wine has a touch of peach and honeysuckle. The palate deepens the fruitiness first found on the nose but finishes slightly sweet. This wine shows balance and concentration throughout.

Grgich Hills 2020 Miljenko’s Selection, Gewurztraminer, Napa Valley

Outside of Alsace this time. This one is from California. It is pale straw in color with a lychee aroma with a medium body; this wine has light floral notes of jasmine green tea. A richly textured California ‘Napa Valley’ wine that could use some more time in the bottle to develop complexity. 

Conclusion

When pairing wine with Chicken Marsala, you’ll want to choose a dry red or off-dry white. Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Rosé (if you can find one that’s not too sweet), Chianti, and Barbera d’Asti are all good choices for this dish. My own favorite is to pair Cabernet Sauvignon with a dry Marsala. If it’s the sweet version then I’d always go with Gewurztraminer. It’s just a little better than a Riesling with Chicken Marsala and that is why it is on my list.

Looking for a reliable recipe to make Chicken Marsala at home, I recommend Lindsay Funston’s Creamy Chicken Marsala recipe on delish.com

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my post on the Best Wine for Chicken Piccata.