Like Madeira, Marsala comes in dry and sweet varieties – but those typically used in cooking tend to be dry. Unless your recipe specifically calls for a sweet Madeira, opt for a dry substitute. Other acceptable alternatives are dark sherry, port or red vermouth.
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The four main white grape varieties used for the production of Madeira are (from the sweetest to the driest) Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial. These varieties also borrow their names from Madeira labeling as detailed below.
But the aging process for Madeira is different than any wine in the world. The high heat it is exposed to usually gives it a more complex flavor profile than port wine. The result is an almost smoky, toasted nut flavor. Basically, there is nothing wrong with a sip after dinner.
The four main grape varieties used to make Madeira are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey, in ascending order of sweetness. For cooking, we recommend a reserve wine that has been aged for at least five years.
This means that a distilled grape brandy is added to the wine after fermentation, which acts as a preservative. Without going into the details of how Madeira is made, one difference between Madeira and Sherry is that Madeira is heated during maturation while Sherry is not.
Most people think of Madeira as an after-dinner wine, but its varied styles and high acidity make it a great meal accompaniment. The best pairing ever is Peanut Butter Cups and a 1912 Verdelho Madeira Glass ($475). Winter and autumn soups like butternut squash are a great addition to Bual Madeira.
Pure Madeira. Variety Madeira represents the highest quality Madeira wine, perfect for aperitifs or dessert wines. These wines are produced both as non-vintage cuvées and as single vintage wines that are allowed to age for centuries due to Madeira’s unique winemaking process.
Madeira wine is fortified with brandy during fermentation to increase its alcohol content to 18-20%.
If you are looking for a Marsala wine substitute that comes closest in flavor to Italian cooking wine, then Madeira is your best bet. Madeira is a fortified wine and is similar in color and taste to Marsala wine and is a good one-to-one substitute.
If you have some Marsala or Madeira wine after dinner, put it in the fridge afterwards. But if you plan on cooking with it (you don’t need peak freshness for chicken marsala, for example), you have a little wiggle room to keep it in the fridge for a month or two. p>
Madeira wine is available in different degrees of sweetness: seco (dry), meio seco (medium dry), meio doce (medium sweet) and doce (sweet). Most Madeiras have at least some sweet notes thanks to the maderization process. Each Madeira is subjected to heat to develop its characteristic caramel notes and extend its shelf life.
When choosing port, choose a dry, aged white port or red tawny to come closest. A red tawny is especially good when you’re making a venison or beef stew. Also, Port is probably the most accessible substitute for Madeira as you will find at least a small selection in any supermarket
Douro. Port wine is the most famous and copied wine from Portugal and grows in the Douro Valley.
Ranges from sweet to dry and is made primarily from a handful of varietals including Tinta Negra Mole, Sercial, Verdelho, Bual (aka Boal) and Malvasia (aka Malmsey). As with other fortified wines such as Marsala, Port and Sherry, Madeira is made with a distilled grape brandy (usually brandy).