Wine & Food

Snooth User: smithdaj54

Alternatives for Cooking with Madeira???

Posted by smithdaj54, Apr 25, 2012.

So, I have a recipe calling for a Madeira.  I understand this is a "pre-cooked" wine and would probably taste great...but I can't seem to find a damn bottle under $30.  I hesitate to spend that much on a bottle i need 3/4 cup of.  Any suggestions for alternatives?  Making a beef and mushroom dish. 



Reply by joebernardinoATyahoo, Apr 25, 2012.

You should be able to find cheap Madeira either Taylor or Fairbanks, I sell Taylor for $6.99


Reply by EMark, Apr 25, 2012.

Don't know where you live, Smith, but as Joe indicates above, here in California you can find Taylor or Fairbanks in just about any supermarket.

I am of the opinion that recipes are very rarely chiseled in stone tablets.  If I don't have an ingredient, I am very comfortable with either substituting or leaving it out.  However, with your question I quizzed the Mrs. (former chef).  She thought that Sherry or Marsala would be good subtitutes, and then suggested that I google "Madeira cooking substitutes."  Well, I found a site called, and the way I read it, feel free to mix and match any fortified wine:  Madeira, Marsala, Port, Sherry, Vermouth.  Of course, if you are having difficulty finding 3/4 cup of Madeira for a reasonable price where you live, you may have the same problem with any of these alternatives if you don't already have some on hand.

Good luck.

Reply by lakenvelder, Apr 25, 2012.

I  purchased  some Taylor for I belive less that $10 USD. I do not think I would had paid too much more for the same reason as you will now by any for $30.00.  It  did made some great basted turkey for thanskgiving. I found it easily but I know how some times different areas it can be hard to find certian wines and other alchold. I cannot find BOLS genever gin anywhere where I live. Anyway, I sometimes use sherry for cooking so I think it would be a great subsitution.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 25, 2012.

Vermouth and sherry, IMHO, won't get near the same effect (too thinly acidic in one direction, too salty in another). Port will be too strong in terms of reddish fruit. Marsala would be my first choice as a substitute, though hopefully not one too sweet. But, as others have commented, look a little further for some cheap Madeira, first. 

I agree wholeheartedly with Mark: recipes are not stone tablets from Sinai, but rather directional indicators. They (hopefully) have proven in other kitchens to achieve certain tasty effects that also include good looks, good 'bite' (consistency), etc., too. In yours, you can achieve the same by following them, but maybe even tastier or slightly different or more economical or more practical (depending on what you have or don't have on hand) with a little experimenting around. Ultimately you'll be creating your own dishes based on the sensibilities you've achieved. My family put up with a lot of my 'experiments' in many years past that were only a little better than 50% successful (by my own account). Now the rate's well past 90% and I have an occasional laugh with my daughters about attempts at reproducing dishes from travels in Italy or Mexico or wherever that first try were rough, but now are down pat.

That 2/3 cup will only be a little less than a quarter of a bottle, as you recognize, but if you cook the dish, or something similar with another meat, for example, just a few more times, it'll soon be eaten (rather than drunk) up. Any of the bottles mentioned will last for quite awhile opened. Or you can buy some better Madeira and drink the rest of the bottle as a dessert wine, or late afternoon/early evening aperitif. Good Madeira is a lovely libation!

What are you cooking with it?

Reply by Bsberlin22, Apr 25, 2012.

Medieira and mushrooms is the best combination in the culinary world. i dont know why... it just is! 

Reply by smithdaj54, Apr 25, 2012.

Ok, so I went to Whole Foods and was shocked they had one at a good value, only $9!  I made the mistake of checking my usual wine shops, which had great wines, but I was being "economic."  Thank you all for your help!


Dmcker, making bacon wrapped steak medallions with a wild mushroom side, all cooked in a madeira-garlic-oil-sauce thing.  I am no chef, as you might tell!  ;)  Excited for the wine pairing, thinking earthy pinot noir or nebbiolo of some sort...Mmmmm.

Reply by Azeredo, Apr 25, 2012.

MHO, If you can not drink the wine, do not cook with it.

There are a lot of Madeira style wine from California for U$ 5, but also some drinkable original portuguese  Rainwater  for U$ 7.

Reply by GregT, Apr 25, 2012.

As mentioned, you can use something else. Sherry comes in many styles so figure out if you want something sweeter or not. The other wines suggested all have their pluses and minuses but most could work - the dish will just be different. But who cares?  I'd stay away from something really sweet with mushrooms, but some people like it. And you can always use any old still wine that isn't fortified. Again, you'll have a different dish, but so what? Madeira is slightly sweet and oxidized so if you only have a dry white, you can use that. Those mushrooms with some herbs would be quite nice with a white wine - I use it a lot for mushrooms if I don't have a red around.

I hope it all turned out well!

Reply by EMark, Apr 26, 2012.

Above I mentioned that Mrs. EMark suggested a Google search for Madeira substitutions, and I reported that I had done so.  Well, apparently her interest was piqued and she also went internet hunting.  She found lot's of references for substituting other fortified wines, and red table wines.  Here's the interesting one, though, one site suggested a Balsamic Vinegar reduction.  This, of course, requires more effort than taking the cap/cork off a convenient bottle, and, probably does come anywhere near the complexity of the Madeira ingredient, but I thought it was intriguing.

Bsberlin's passionate endorsement of the Madeira/mushroom combination makes me want to try it.  Come back to us Smithdaj, and let us know how it came out.

Reply by GregT, Apr 26, 2012.

Tht balsamic reduction could be pretty tasty! Can be pretty complex in its own right.

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