I am Stunned
Instant Rice

Substitution for Madeira Wine

Is there something that I can substitute for Madeira wine?


Madeira is a fortified wine from Portugal.  By fortified, I mean a wine to which brandy or some other spirit has been added to increase the alcohol content.  Although it may be served as a drink either before or after a meal, it also makes a great cooking wine in both sweet and savory applications.  Madeira comes in a wide variety of flavors, from pale dry to rich and tawny.


If you are looking to substitute something else for Madeira and are not concerned about cooking with alcohol, then you can substitute any of dry port, sherry or Marsala wines.  In savory dishes, you can also substitute a dry red wine, although the dish will be noticeably different as it will lack some of the complex flavors that Madeira imparts.

If you are trying to avoid cooking with alcohol, then in savory dishes substitute an equal amount of rich beef or chicken broth or pan gravy from either.

You can also try adding some reduced balsamic vinegar.  Reducing will cook off some of its acidity and at the same time increase the complexity of flavors.  I would suggest starting with a relatively small amount, maybe about half the amount of balsamic as the recipe gives for Madeira, and then reduce that over medium-low heat until it is about half of its original volume and has started to become syrupy.  Then use this in conjunction with the meat or chicken stock to add flavor.  Use about about half of the reduced balsamic which you made, or about 1/8th the amount of Madeira in the recipe, to begin with.  Once the dish is prepared, you can taste it and see if you wish to add more of the reduced balsamic vinegar.   The dish will differ somewhat from what it would be like with Madeira, but the reduced balsamic will give a lot of complexity to it.  I have used this technique successfully to produce very flavorful sauces.

In sweet dishes, you can substitute an equal fruit juice (apple, pomegranate or berry) if you don't want to use alcohol.  Otherwise use any of the fortified wines mentioned above.  Or you can simply leave it out and increase the volume of other liquids by that amount.

If you have food or cooking questions, send them to Questions@KitchenSavvy.com
Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered.
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward


Where can I buy Madeira wine?

which is more tender (making pulled pork) pork butt roast or shoulder roast?

How much does it change the flavor of food when you use just regular cooking wines instead of alcohol wine?

Very thorough response. Thank you for your wisdom!

I was making Chicken Marco Polo and couldnt't find Madeira, I tried the reduced balsamic and it worked wonderful!! Thanks!!

Madeira is slowly heated or cooked, making it fortified and sweet. So its ultra ripe. There are also the styles of Madeira to contend with 3, 5, and 10 year old, each having their own qualities

We've had very good results substituting red vermouth for Madeira in savoury recipes - it's got quasi-balsamic sweetness as well as lovely complex herb flavours.

This is a great post! I have been dying to try and recreate the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Madeira recipe. I linked you on my site as a recommendation for Madeira Wine substitution. :)


The comments to this entry are closed.