Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

English corruption of the word malvasia, derived from the port of Monemvasia which was important in Ancient greece. The word was first used for (probably a wide range of) the unusually sweet, rich wines of Greece and the islands of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Crete, then called Candia (see greece, medieval history). Sweet white wines were prized in the Middle Ages, particularly but not exclusively by northern Europeans, who regarded their own wines as thin, and admired the longevity of these liquids, very possibly dried-grape wines, so sturdily high in sugar and alcohol. The acute merchants of genoa, naples, and venice were able profitably to capitalize on this stability in their trading links between east and west.