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Seeking a Marsala substitute

nooodles Jan 6, 2005 06:50 PM

So I'm looking at Nigella Lawson's braised lamb recipe, as linked by a 'hound earlier this week.

It calls for some marsala, but I'm wondering if I can subsitute it with some other red. Any suggestions?

I've never had marsala (I just know someone's going to post telling me "it's not a red wine at all, you idiot!), and I'd rather not have to buy a bottle if something on my shelf would work well. Cab? Merlot?

  1. s
    summertime Jan 6, 2005 10:55 PM

    But think of it - if you buy marsala, you might be tempted to try all those marsala-centered dishes you have been missing so far. And missing a home-made zabaglione and veal marsala is a truly sad omission for a chowhound.

    If you do got the substitutioun route - fortified sweetish wine would be a much better choice. Even port would be abetter choice than a dry red.

    1. j
      Jim H. Jan 6, 2005 10:42 PM

      I've been using Sweet Vermouth for many years instead of Marsala...tastes fine to me. There is nothing magic about Marsala...Madiera will also work. By the time its cooked off, no one knows what it tastes like, anyhow.

      1. k
        Karl S. Jan 6, 2005 09:20 PM

        Marsala is a fortified dessert wine, with a distinctly sweet taste. Dry red wines will produce a much more tannic (bitter) effect than the recipe intends.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S.
          DanaB Jan 6, 2005 10:10 PM

          Concur -- dishes that call for Marsala are usually going for the distinctive Marsala taste. Swapping out a different wine would be like substituting almond extract for vanilla extract in a dessert. The result would likely still taste good, but it won't taste the way the recipe intended.

          You can buy very affordable Marsala wines at most supermarkets, and as they are fortified wines, they'll keep pretty well after opening.

        2. s
          Sixy beast Jan 6, 2005 06:59 PM

          marsala is more like a sherry
          use maderia or cooking sherry instead
          you can get very cheap ones
          marsala is easy to fins and cheap ones available too

          i wouldnt sub with wine

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sixy beast
            Sixy Beast Jan 6, 2005 07:02 PM

            these keep - so you can keep them for cooking with other things
            the sherry types marsala/maderia work great in creamed mushrooms for example

            or you can make sherry trifle

            1. re: Sixy beast
              Candy Jan 6, 2005 07:10 PM

              Do not buy supermarket "cooking sherry" the stuff is crap and loaded with salt. Buy a decent sherry that is drinkable. A meduim dry one like an amontillado would work.

              1. re: Candy
                Sixy beast Jan 6, 2005 07:40 PM

                I didn't even know you could buy "super market cooking sherry"
                I just used that description as that is what we just called the cheaper sherry we reserved for cooking where i grew up.

                1. re: Sixy beast
                  coll Jan 7, 2005 09:01 AM

                  Yes they do sell "cooking" wines and sherry in the supermarket, I think they're actually full strength but they add a lot of salt, to discourage drinking by little kids or people that shouldn't. There are many brands and some are a little better than others. If you use, just don't add salt to the recipe until you taste it.

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