Substitute for madeira wine

by Rick

Rick asks:

I need to make a Madeira sauce, but no Madeira is available. What do I use as a substitute?

Darby says
You can find all about Madeira in Madeira the Mid-Atlantic Wine.

I think that recipes which specify a particular wine for a dish are sometimes going a little over the top, see for example my answer to this question about Barolo.

In the case of Madeira we can start by noting that is is a fortified wine from the island of the that name in the Atlantic. It is a Portuguese territory.

Madeira wine is not readily available in Australia, you can find it if you look in specialist shops but it is generally too expensive for cooking...hence Rick's question.

The nearest substitute for madeira would be Australian sherry or muscat. Under new naming rules sherry is now called 'apera' in Australia

Does the recipe specify sweet or dry madeira? Use sweet or dry sherry accordingly.

Buy a cheaper brand for cooking. I would never use a wine costing more than about $15 in cooking.

Rick let us know how the sauce goes and tell us what you served it with via a comment.

PS. A good history of Madeira and the wine trade in the Atlantic can be found in Oceans of Wine by David Hancock

Comments for Substitute for madeira wine

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Oct 10, 2014
Madeira Sauce
by: Anonymous

Madeira Sauce is turning up again as a lush and fun sauce that makes me think of old Colonials at their clubs, tucking in to food and wine far too rich for their gouty constitutions.

In my Madeira Sauce recipe, Madeira wine (or substitute) is reduced from half a cup to a mere 3 tablespoons by way of vigorous boiling. The rest of the sauce consists of cooked aromatics, meat stock, ham herbs, tomato paste and butter, butter, butter. I live in the American Pacific Northwest desert--yes, it's desert--far, far away from anything resembling a true wine merchant. So I'm so glad you are discussing substitutions. Thank you!

Jan 04, 2014
Thanks for Madeira Advice
by: Paul

great answer to the question - which also helped us. We can get Madeira wines from Dan Murphy's for b/w $28-40 and only needed 1/2 cup.

thanks for your advice!
-Paul and Debs

Darby Says:

Drink the rest. It is a wonderful wine.

Apr 12, 2010
Madeira Alternative
by: Drinkers Digest

As Madeira is made from the white grape varietal Verdelho.
I have found that Rutherglen Tokay made from muscadelle makes an adequate substitute for Madeira in almost all cases.
Bon Apetit

Apr 07, 2010
Madeira Substitute
by: Simon


I recently encountered this problem when making a duck liver pate. I went to my trusted wine merchant and he recommended I use "Malmsey" which is produced by Bullers in Rutherglen. I since tried the same recipe with sherry and it wasn't as good.

I've since seen it at Dan Murphy's so is readily available. Hope this helps


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