How to Cook with Madeira Wine and What Foods to Pair with it?

Madeira is a Portuguese fortified wine originating from the off coast of Africa, on the Madeira Islands.

Madeira goes through a tough process of fermentation and supplementation with distilled spirits, to bring out its unique taste. It is then oxidized using heat, which helps the wine become indestructible for centuries, even in an open bottle.

How does it Taste?

The four major varieties of Madeira range from very dry to very sweet. The taste depends on which one you purchase.

Img Src: Decanter Magazine
  • Sercial is very dry and acidic with a nutty flavor profile.
  • Verdelho is slightly sweeter but still quite dry and acidic. It has smoky flavors on the palate.
  • Bual feels dark, rich and sweet on the palate with notes of raisin.
  • Malvasia is the sweetest among the four. With notes of coffee and caramel, this wine is dark and rich.

Food Pairings with Madeira

1. Madeira wines like Verdelho, Terrantez and Sercial make a great aperitif.

They are best served with-

  • Olives
  • Salads
  • Sushi
  • Smoked salmon
  • Milk or goat cheese
  • Apple tarts
  • Fruit pastries

2. Sweeter style of Madeira such as Malvasia are perfect dessert wines.

These can be paired with-

  • Blue cheese
  • Dried fruits
  • Dark chocolate desserts
  • Pastries with nuts or honey

An old and well-aged Madeira can be enjoyed on its own like a Cognac.

Cooking with Madeira

Madeira wines are known for their versatility. Madeira perfectly complements all sorts of ingredients because of its vast range of wines.

It not only adds flavors, but also dimension to the dishes. From soups to stews to desserts, it packs quite a punch and an intense impact on the final product.

The first thing to check before cooking a Madeira based dish, is what kind of wine does the dish require? It is always safe to use an average blended Madeira. Choose the safest- Finest or Rainwater type. These are packed with flavors and aromas and are typically inexpensive.

  • Sercial has tones of peach, walnut and citrus smoke aromas.
  • Verdelho tastes like hay, cucumber and lemon. Often served as aperitif or after the meal.
  • Bual has aromas of cinnamon and vanilla and goes best with desserts.
  • Malvasia has aromas of burnt caramel, chili pepper and raisins. This is the best wine to use for sweet recipes.
  • Sercial and Verdelho are recommended for savory dishes.

Some Recipes to MUST TRY cooking with Madeira

  • Roasted Chicken with Madeira Sauce
  • Beef Tenderloin with Madeira-Dijon Sauce
  • Filet Mignon with Madeira Prune Sauce
  • Pork Chops with Mushroom Madeira
  • Lemon/Blackberry Madeira Cake
  • Chocolate brownie with Madeira Gelato

Madeira Substitute

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A substitute for Madeira, is Marsala which is another type of fortified wine. It comes in dry and sweet varieties.

Other acceptable alternatives of Madeira are Dark Sherry, Port wine or Red Vermouth.

This video explains all about Madeira wine.

Src: Youtube

Final Thoughts

Finding the correct substitute of Madeira is not difficult until you are okay with a difference in taste. It is always hard to find, but replacing it with a high-quality wine is the best alternative.

In the end, make sure to pick up Madeira from the wine shop to enhance the flavors and surprise your guests with the heavenly treats you cook at home!

Also check the dry white wine wines.

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