10 Best Madeira Wine Substitutes

Made on the Portuguese island Madeira, Madeira wine is one of the most known wines in the world.

This fortified wine is a common dessert wine, aperitif, and cooking wine with added salt and pepper which is usually used in the preparation of sauces. These wines are fortified with a distilled spirit like brandy and have high alcohol content from 18-20%.

Different types of this wine pair with different foods. For instance, sweet types of Madeira pairs with desserts, cheese, sweet pastries, and dried fruit. Dry types of Madeira are good to pair with cheese, fatty meats, and creamy soups.

Madeira wine is also used in cooking to add flavor to sauces, soups, stews, and desserts. But if you don’t have Madeira wine at home and you are making a recipe that calls for it you can use some other wines as a substitute for Madeira wine.

What is Madeira Wine?

Madeira wine is mainly made of red grapes but there are some types made with white grapes. These wines have high acidity, various levels of sweetness, and many flavors.

The main types of Madeira wines are dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, and sweet and they all have different flavors.

Dry is with the freshest taste, medium-dry has smoky, caramel and slightly spicy taste, medium sweet have a taste of cacao, coffee, raisins, and burnt caramel, and sweet is with a chocolate taste.

Best Madeira wine substitutes are fortified wines similar to Madeira wine. However, if you want to use some non-alcoholic substitute you can use stock, juice, or balsamic vinegar.

Madeira Wine Substitute for Cooking

Some of these fortified wines will add a similar flavor to Madeira wine in your dish but you have to choose the right wine and the right amount that will improve the flavor of your dish.

1. Port wine

Port wine is another fortified with brandy wine. This Portugal wine is a dessert wine and digestif. It can have chocolate, caramel, berries, and cinnamon taste.

It pairs well with cheese, fruit cakes, berries, and chocolate flavors. Dry white port or red tawny has the closest taste to Madeira and will give you a similar Madeira flavor to your dish. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for Madeira wine.

2. Sherry wine


Sherry wine is made mainly of white grapes and has dried fruit, nutty, and saline flavors. There are two types of sherry wines including dry and sweet. They all have distinctive flavors like almonds, walnuts, caramel, fig, toffee, and molasses depending on the type of the wine.

Dry sherry is a good substitute for Madeira wine. However, you will not get the same taste as Madeira wine. Use it in the same amount as Madeira wine in your recipes.

3. Marsala wine


Marsala wine is a fortified wine from Sicily that’s perfect for baking and cooking. It has brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, tobacco, licorice, and a nutty flavor with a hint of dried fruit depending on the sweetness and aging time. You can use it in sweet and savory dishes as a substitute for Madeira wine in a 1:1 ratio.

4. Vermouth


You can choose between dry and sweet vermouth. Sweet vermouth is with herbal, spiced, and sweet flavor while dry vermouth has a floral and dry flavor.

They are both used in cocktails or as aperitifs. Vermouth is also used in some dishes with fish, meat, vegetables, and seafood. Substitute vermouth with Madeira wine in the same amount in your recipes.

5. Ice wine

This sweet dessert wine is made specially from the liquid of the frozen grapes on the vine. Ice wine has a sweet flavor and hints of dried apricot, peach, honey, citrus, and mango. It is a bit acidic as a balance to its sweetness.

It pairs well with soft cheese, vanilla desserts, coconut, panna cotta, and cheesecake. And because of the specific production process, ice wine is expensive and is not usually sold in stores.

So, if you have a bottle of ice wine, you can use it as a substitute for Madeira wine, especially in desserts. Use the same amount of ice wine as a substitute for Madeira wine in sweet recipes.

Madeira Wine Substitute Non-Alcoholic

Non-alcoholic substitutes for Madeira wine-like fruit juices work well in sweet dishes whereas chicken and beef stock perform well in savory dishes. However, if you enjoy the flavor that fruit juices add to your food you can also use them in your savory dishes.

6. Berry juice

Cranberry juice concentrate

Berry juice is a good substitute for Madeira wine in sweet dishes. You can either buy berry juice or make it at home with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, and some other types of berries. If you are making berry juice at home you can add some sugar and acid for better flavor.

The best berry juice you can use as a substitute for Madeira wine is cranberry juice. It has a sweet and quite refreshing taste that resembles cherries. To substitute 4 tablespoons of Madeira win use 3 tablespoons cranberry juice diluted with 1 tablespoon water.

7. Apple juice or red grape juice

Apple juice

You can use apple juice and red grape juice as a substitute for Madeira wine in sweet recipes. They both have a sweet-bitter and slightly tart flavor which pairs well with the sweet flavor of your dessert. You can use them in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for Madeira wine.

8. Pomegranate juice

pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice has a sweet-sour flavor and pairs well with sweet dishes such as cakes, muffins, tarts, cupcakes, and many other desserts.

However, if you like its flavor, you can also use it in meat marinades, salad dressings, and sauces. Substitute the wanted amount of Madeira wine in your recipe with the same amount of pomegranate juice.

9. Chicken and beef stock


You can also use chicken and beef stock as a substitute for Madeira wine in savory dishes. They have a slightly savory flavor and work as a base in various savory dishes like sauces, soups, and stews.

Use ½ cup of any stock as a substitute for ½ cup of Madeira wine. For a better flavor, you can add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice.

10. Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has a sweet and slightly acidic flavor. It is a common ingredient in many savory dishes with meat, seafood, and fish. But you can also sprinkle it on fresh fruits and berries.

If you want to intensify the flavor of this product, you can bring it to boil in a saucepan. Simmer until it reduces and turns dense and sweet. Use balsamic vinegar in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for Madeira wine.


Can I substitute red wine for Madeira?

You can substitute red wine for Madeira. However, you will not get the same sweet and nutty flavor as when you are using Madeira wine.

Is Madeira the same as Sherry?

Madeira and Sherry are fortified wines with different flavors. They are also made with different production processes.

Can I substitute vermouth for Madeira?

Vermouth is one of the substitutes for Madeira wine. You can use dry vermouth in your savory dishes to improve their flavor.

What does Madeira wine taste like?

Madeira wine has a unique way of making that includes heating, oxidizing, and aging in oak casks for more than four years. And since this wine is made in this special way unopened bottle can last for over a hundred years.

However, an opened one lasts for a few months if it is stored in a cold and dark space. Madeira wine has several tastes like peach, walnut oil, orange peel, hazelnut, burnt sugar, and caramel.


Madeira wine has a unique flavor and is produced in a specific way. Therefore, this fortified wine has a distinctive flavor. It is not very easy to reach the same flavor with these substitutes but you can try and improve the taste of your food.

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