Probably of Greek origin, the Malvasia is a very old family of grapes found throughout the Mediterranean. Known as Malvoisie in France, Malmsey on the island of Madeira and by numerous names in Italy, Malvasia is most likely named after the Greek port city of Monemvasia. Generally associated with white wines of considerable color and sweetness and also with the production of dessert wines.
Malvasia is one of the four styles of Madeira. It is also part of the Italian sweet wine Vin Santo, in which the grapes are dried before pressing. There are also many dry styles found throughout Italy. Malvasia Nera is used for making red wines, usually blended with Negromaro in southern Italy. There are very few wines made solely from Malvasia, but the best come from Piedmont and are known as Malvasia di Casozo and Castelnuovo Don Bosco. Malvasia can also be found in Spain (Ribera del Duero), France, Greece, Australia and the U.S.