Madeira wine is a rich wine that comes from the Portuguese island of Madeira off the West coast of Africa.
Madeira wine is fortified with brandy and comes in dry and sweet varieties. This wine is used as an aperitif, a dessert wine, and often to add flavor to dishes while cooking. There are four main varieties of Madeira wine: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malvasia.
Marsala wine is a great substitute for Madeira wine because Marsala wine is a fortified wine that adds a similar sweet flavor to dishes. Another good substitute is Port wine because it has a fruity flavor. Non-alcoholic substitutes like chicken stock and balsamic vinegar can also be used.
Best Substitute for Madeira Wine: Marsala Wine
The best substitute for Madeira wine is Marsala wine—a fortified wine produced in Sicily. Marsala wine adds a sweet fruity flavor to dishes to achieve a flavor profile similar to Madeira wine.
Marsala wine is the wine closest in flavor and color to Madeira wine. When substituting Marsala wine for Madeira wine, select a dry variety to match the Madeira flavors.
However, if your recipe calls for a sweet Madeira variety, then substitute it with a sweet Marsala wine. When used in baked goods, the sweet variety of Marsala wine has a sweet-acidic flavor balance similar to that of Madeira wine.
Substitute Marsala wine for Madeira wine using a 1:1 ratio. You can add Marsala wine to both sweet dishes like tiramisu and savory dishes like meats, soups, and stews.
Other Madeira Wine Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
There are several other alcoholics and non-alcoholic substitutes for Madeira wine that are great for cooking, baking, or as a beverage.
Alcoholic Substitutes for Madeira Wine
Port wine is a Portuguese dessert wine fortified with brandy. Port wine has sweet berry, chocolate, and caramel flavors with hints of cinnamon. A red tawny or an aged, dry white Port wine offers a similar flavor profile to Madeira wine.
Port wine can be used in dishes as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. Port wine is best used in sauces, soups, marinades, and cakes. As a beverage, Port wine pairs well with chocolate, berries, fruit cakes, and cheeses.
Sherry wine is also a good substitute for Madeira wine. Sherry wine comes from Spain and is made from white grapes. Sherry wine has nutty and dried fruit flavors and a slight saltiness. It comes in dry and sweet varieties.
The flavors of sherry wine are distinct, with hints of toffee, fig, walnut, and almond. The taste of sherry differs from Madeira wine but has similar nutty notes. A dark sherry is the same color as Madeira wine.
Sherry can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. “Cooking sherry ” is a low-quality wine made for cooking that contains more salt than drinking sherry. Sherry wine is best used for meat marinades, sauces for chicken dishes, and cheese sauces.
Vermouth, from Italy, is a good substitute for Madeira wine because vermouth is also fortified and contains herbs for added flavor. Various types of vermouth wines can be found in both dry and sweet varieties. Vermouth wine flavors will vary depending on the type used.
A dry vermouth wine can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. In savory dishes, dry vermouth adds a floral and aromatic flavor. Sweet vermouth, on the other hand, produces spiced, herbal, and sweet flavors that work well in sweet dishes.
Vermouth is best used in sauces for fish dishes, roast chicken glazes, and risotto. Vermouth is also a popular ingredient in cocktails.
Pinot noir wine is made from the pinot noir grape variety and has a light-bodied flavor. Pinot noir is a good substitute for Madeira wine, although pinot noir has a subtly sweeter flavor.
While pinot noir can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine in food dishes, you should add sugar to the dish to mimic the sweet taste of Madeira wine. Pinot noir works well in spicy recipes and pasta sauces.
Ice wine is a dessert wine made from frozen grapes. It adds a sweet flavor to dishes. Ice wine has a nutty flavor with notes of peach, honey, mango, and just a hint of citrus. Ice wine is a good substitute for Madeira wine when used in desserts because ice wine adds extra richness and sweetness to the dish.
Ice wine can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine in sweet dishes and a 1:2 substitute in savory dishes. Ice wine is best used in cakes, candies, and desserts. As a beverage, ice wine pairs well with panna cotta, soft cheeses, cakes, and vanilla desserts.
White Wine and Brandy
Since Madeira is wine fortified with brandy, you can create your own fortified wine to substitute for Madeira wine. Mixing white wine and brandy produces a similar flavor that works well as a substitute.
To create the mix, combine 1 cup of white wine with ¼ cup of brandy and ½ tablespoon of brown sugar. The amount of sugar can vary depending on how sweet you want the dish to be.
The white wine and brandy mix can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine, and it works well in pasta dishes and sauces for chicken and other meats.
Dry Red Wine
Dry red wine is a wine that contains no residual sugar, giving it an acidic taste. Dry red wine can be used as a substitute for Madeira wine to add liquid to dishes. Dry red wine doesn’t have a similar taste to Madeira wine, so dry red wine will alter the taste of the dish due to its lack of complex flavors.
Dry red wine can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine because dry red wine adds acidity to dishes despite lacking the nutty flavors of Madeira wine. Dry red wine works well in thick dishes like sauces and soups.
Muscat, or Moscato in Italian, is a good substitute for Madeira wine because Muscat offers a sweet flavor with hints of citrus, chamomile, and honey.
Muscat has a low alcohol content. It can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine, particularly in cakes, panna cotta, and peach sauce.
Non-alcoholic Substitutes for Madeira Wine
White Grape Juice
White grape juice is a good non-alcoholic substitute for Madeira wine because white grape juice adds sweetness to dishes. However, white grape juice contains less acid than Madeira wine, so a dish prepared using white grape juice may lack acid.
To create a substitute closer to Madeira, combine ¼ cup of white grape juice with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.
Either plain white grape juice or the mix can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. White grape juice should be added to pasta dishes, meatball sauce, and mushroom dishes.
Berry juices such as cranberry juice can be used as a substitute for Madeira wine in sweet dishes and desserts. Either store-bought berry juice or homemade berry juice with added acid and sugar make good substitutes.
To substitute berry juice for Madeira wine, mix ¾ cup of berry juice with ¼ cup water. The resulting diluted berry juice can be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. Berry juice is best used in cakes and sweet dishes.
Apple juice is very sweet, so it is a good substitute for Madeira wine in sweet recipes. Apple juice also has a tarty and bitter flavor that complements sweet desserts.
Apple juice is weaker than Madeira wine, so it reduces the bitter taste in dishes. You should use a 1:1 substitute of apple juice to Madeira wine. Apple juice can be used in cakes and savory Chinese dishes (along with a dash of vinegar).
Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable Stock
Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock is a good substitute for Madeira wine in savory dishes. Any type of stock will add flavor to a dish, but the stock will change the taste and consistency of the dish.
The stock should be used as a base in savory dishes such as stews, soups, and sauces. The stock also works in pasta dishes, rice dishes, and curry. Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock works as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. You can add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice to improve the flavor of the dish.
Pomegranate juice is a good substitute for Madeira wine because pomegranate juice offers a sweet and sour flavor to sweet dishes. Pomegranate juice is best used as a substitute for Madeira wine in sweet and savory dishes.
Pomegranate juice should be used as a 1:1 substitute for Madeira wine. Pomegranate juice works best in sweet dishes like muffins, cupcakes, tarts, and cakes. Pomegranate juice is also used in savory dishes such as salad dressing, meat marinades, and sauces.
Balsamic vinegar is a good substitute for Madeira wine in savory dishes. Balsamic vinegar won’t add the same sweetness that Madeira wine adds to dishes, although it can be reduced with sugar to make it a better substitute.
Substitute vinegar by measuring out a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to the amount Madeira wine called for. Then place the balsamic vinegar in a pan over low to medium heat until it reduces to half the unheated amount and becomes syrupy.
Reduced balsamic vinegar adds a complex and sweet flavor to dishes, much like the flavors created when using Madeira wine.
Balsamic vinegar is best used in savory dishes such as stews, sauces, meats, and seafood. Balsamic vinegar is also a good choice for sweet dishes like fruit salads, chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and berry desserts.