Marsala Wine Substitutes

Flavorful Marsala Wine Substitutes That Don't Compromise on Taste

Though Marsala wine imparts a unique flavor to dishes, in its absence you will be forced to look for a substitute. Here is a list of some substitutes that mimic the wonderful flavor of Marsala wine.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2018
While Dry Marsala can be used as an alternative to Sweet Marsala in some recipes, the sweet version may not work as a substitute for the dry type.

Marsala wine is Italy's most well-known form of fortified wine, produced in Marsala, Sicily. Like its siblings Port, Sherry, and Madeira, this wine contains high alcohol content (17 to 20%). Marsala wine is available in different types that are classified according to the sweetness and age. The low age grades have a low alcohol content. Fine Marsala is less than a year old and has 17% alcohol content. On the other hand, Superiore (aged for more than 2 years) has 18% alcohol content, and Vergine Soleras (aged for more than 5 years) has 18 to 20% alcohol content.
The glorious Marsala wine is prepared from indigenous white grapes such as Catarratto, Grillo, and aromatic Insolia grapes. The combination of these three varieties of grapes is what gives the wine its rich red color. It is available in both sweet and dry forms, and was traditionally served between the first and second course of a meal. However, today it is served chilled with Parmesan, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and various other spicy cheeses. Besides being popular for its consumption as wine, it is also known for its culinary uses.
What to Use Instead of Marsala Wine?
Marsala wine is popularly used in cooking, and is added to scores of cakes and other dishes. While the sweet version is mainly used in desserts and sweet sauces; the dry type is used in savory dishes, especially those with turkey, beef, and veal. However, what does one do if the stock of Marsala at home is over? In such situations, one needs to make use of suitable substitutes. Chardonnay or Cabernet are popular as alternatives to Marsala wine. A mixture of equal amounts of brandy and water is also used in place of Marsala. Given below are some commonly used replacements for Marsala wine.
  • If you are looking for a similar taste, Madeira wine would work in place of Marsala. You may also go for Port wine or sherry instead. You can use them in equal amounts.
  • Another option is Amontillado wine, which can be used instead of dry Marsala. Pedro Ximenez is a white Spanish wine that can be used as an alternative to sweet Marsala. 
  • If you have both sherry and sweet Vermouth, mix them in equal amounts and use it as a replacement for Marsala wine. 
  • When it comes to ideal Marsala substitutes, grape juice is very popular. However, add a small amount of brandy, before use. If you need half a cup of Marsala for preparing a recipe, use half a cup of grape juice mixed with two teaspoons of brandy. 
  • You may also use dry white wine as an alternative to Marsala. If the recipe calls for ΒΌ cup of white wine, use an equal amount of dry white wine mixed with a teaspoon of brandy. 
  • Marsala wine can be replaced with a mixture of white wine, brandy and a dash of sugar and salt. Combine two parts white wine with one part brandy and some brown sugar, along with a pinch of salt. 
  • Certain fruits like prunes, figs, and plums can be used to prepare a substitute for Marsala wine. All you need to do is to stew any of these fruits and strain them, before adding a small amount of balsamic vinegar. 
  • In cake recipes, especially Tiramisu, you can substitute Marsala with watered down red grape juice or cranberry juice. The flavor of course will not be the same, nevertheless, if you really do not take wine, this alternative will work fine. 
Apart from the substitutes mentioned above, you can also try adding chicken stock in place of the Marsala. While wines like Madeira are best for replacing Marsala, substitutes without alcohol may not be that effective. If you want the unique flavor of Marsala, you need to get Marsala itself!
Marsala wine is available in all wine stores. Some grocery stores too supply such wines. Just buy a bottle and store it in a dark place. The wine is fortified and lasts for a long time, so always keep a bottle at home, and use it whenever you are preparing the dish that calls for its addition. Dishes like zabligone needs Marsala, as none of the substitutes may work. Even the best substitute cannot impart the flavor that Marsala brings to the dish!
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