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Substitute for Madeira Wine

Madeira is a robust and flavored-filled wine that is famous for its long-lasting nature. It is a Portuguese fortified wine made on the Madeira islands, which are off Africa’s coast. The dry versions are usually served before or in between meals, while the sweet varieties are considered desserts wines. Fortified wine is a wine that has been fermented and is supplemented with distilled spirits. Some other types of such wines are port, sherry, and vermouth. Because madeira is oxidized through a unique process involving heat and aging, the process results are indestructible, making it last longer.

There are four varieties of madeira, and they range from very dry to very sweet. Verdelho is a smoky variety that is slightly sweeter than sercial, but it is dry and acidic. Sercial is very dry with a somewhat nutty flavor, and it is very acidic. Bual is a dark, rich sweet wine that has a flavor with notes of raisin. Martasia happens to be the sweetest of the four kinds. It is quite dark, rich, and has an undertone of coffee and caramel. Madeira complements all sorts of ingredients in cooking.

It is versatile in most ways as sherry is. It adds flavor and dimension to most recipes, from velvety sauces to soups and stews and desserts. However, when making Madeira in your cooking, it is important to follow your recipe closely as it comes with quite a punch. Adding too much or too little can have an intense impact on your end product.

Substitute for Madeira Wine

Madeira can be made from either red or white grapes, but it is made using red grapes in most cases. This doesn’t make the wine red, but in color, Madeira is golden-brownish depending on the age. Madeira, just like port and muscatel are multifunctional dessert wine muses. The marinade, macerate, reduce, flambe, poach, and can be drunk just as it is. Many cuisines find this condiment quite useful, whether to marinade game meats, pour a tad, or into strawberries with sugar to macerate. It can also be ducked in muscatel; chicken in madeira, and so on.

It can also be customized to recipes and will come out tasting really nice. For instance, if the semi-sweetness of the wine is splashed with citrus juice, cipollini onions, and salty capers as the finish, you are left with another layer of sweetness. Desserts are also not left out when it comes to using madeira wine. When paired with fruit, the result is magical. Honey, madeira, strawberries, oranges, cinnamon, and nutmeg, all macerates overnight, can create a delicious dessert. The flavor of madeira wine, especially when used in cooking, is roasted nuts, stewed fruit caramel, and toffee. The taste profile carries a flavor of walnut oil, peach, hazelnut, and burnt sugar.

Wine Nutrition Facts

Uses in Different Types of Recipes.

Madeira wine is multifunctional, making it applicable to most meals and also desserts. Some of them include:

  • Madeira sauce
  • Madeira cake
  • Soups
  • Classic Madeira sauce
  • Mincemeat
  • Carpetbag steak with potato cake and greens
  • Roast duck, asparagus, and morels

Substitutes for Madeira Wine

Some of the alternatives for madeira wine in cooking include the following, which in some ways share similarities with it;

Port Wine

Port Wine Seasoned Liqueur

Port Wine Seasoned Liqueur

Port wine is produced similarly to madeira wine which means it is also fortified with grapes. Port wine has a fantastic aroma and flavor. To use it as a substitute for madeira, it is advised to choose a dry, aged white port or red tawny to come close to madeira wine.

Dark Sherry

Dark Sherry

Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine

Sherry is another substitute fortified wine from Spain. The only distinction between sherry to madeira is that it is exclusively made from white grapes. However, this serves as a perfect substitute for madeira. It has two main categories of dry Fino and cream, which is sweet. So, you can substitute according to what your recipe calls for.

Marsala wine

Holland House Cook Wine Marsala

Holland House Cook Wine Marsala

Marsala is another great substitute for madeira and can be used primarily for cooking and as an aperitif. They can also be used in ways you use madeira in desserts like modern Italian classic or tiramisu.


Stirrings All Natural Dirty Martini Cocktail Mixer

Stirrings All Natural Dirty Martini Cocktail Mixer

Vermouth is a good madeira substitute. However, for savory cooking, you should go for dry and aromatic vermouth of good quality—for instance, French vermouth noily pat. Vermouth starts out as a neutral grape wine, then aromatized with different herbs.

Ice Wine

St Regis Cabernet Sauvignon

St Regis Cabernet Sauvignon

This comes in perfectly as a substitute for madeira in the dessert recipe. Ice wine is sweet wine based on the sweet yellow muscat grape. It is used in the same amount as madeira in different recipes.

Substitute for Madeira Wine in Cooking

You should make use of sweet madeira in your recipe specifically, only if it calls for it. Otherwise, you can opt for a dry substitute. Other acceptable alternatives are dark sherry, port, or red vermouth. They can serve perfectly as madeira will in most of your cooking, and they can be used in the same quantity.

Non-Alcoholic Substitute for Madeira Wine

In savory dishes, the best non-alcoholic substitute for Madeira wine is chicken or beef stock. For a more flavorful alternative, you can reduce balsamic vinegar and mix it with stock before adding it to the dish. In sweet recipes, too, it is easy to substitute Madeira with fruit juice.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What can I use instead of Madeira wine?

Like Madeira, Marsala comes in dry and sweet varieties, but the ones typically used for cooking tend toward dryness.

Can I use port instead of Madeira wine?

Madeira is a fortified wine from Portugal. If you are looking to substitute something else for Madeira that is not concerned about cooking with alcohol, you can substitute any dry port or sherry.

Is Madeira wine sweet or dry?

Madeira ranges from sweet to dry varieties and is made from a handful of grapes. The dry ones are usually used for cooking.


This is a wrap on the various substitutes available for madeira in recipes. I do hope you would find one which works for your cooking.