Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Malvasia, name used widely, especially in Iberia and Italy, for at least 20 different grape varieties. Wines produced from them are, typically, deeply coloured whites but some are, usually light, reds.

The word Malvasia itself is thought to be the Italian corruption of Monemvasia, the southern Greek port which, in the Middle Ages, was a busy and natural entrepôt for the rich and highly prized dessert wines of the eastern Mediterranean, notably those of Crete, or Candia (see greece, history)—although it is not known which grape varieties were responsible for these wines. They may not even have included any of the varieties known today as Malvasia of some sort. But so important was wine from Monemvasia during the time of the Venetian republic that wine shops in venice were called malvasie.