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Seeking a Marsala substitute

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  • nooodles Jan 6, 2005 06:50 PM
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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?

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            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.

      2. 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.

          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. 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. 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.