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Mar 19, 2009 02:29 PM

Sherry substitute for a tomato cream sauce?

My recipe for tonight calls for medium-dry sherry, and I just realized that all I have is an unopened bottle of cooking sherry. If you were me, would you:

1. substitute marsala, ruby port, or dry vermouth (which one of these is the closest?)
2. go ahead and use the cooking sherry
3. suck it up and go buy the real thing.

Thanks in advance for any assistance!

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  1. I'd vote for the marsala, especially if it is in the dry to medium dry range.

    1. The sauce also has pancetta and porchini mushrooms in it, if that influences anyone one way or another.

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodshark73

        It's nothing near sherry, but I find gin to be kinda neat with tomato sauces. Closest to the sherry would be the marsala or the port. Do you have a dessert wine? That might work as well.

        1. re: foodshark73

          These other ingredients are basically Italian. Vermouth is a fortified wine with herbs and spices from Italy. Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily. Sherry a fortified wine from Spain.

          We all guessing as to why the author of your recipe used sherry. Was it just the fortified wine he was most familiar with? Was there a specific flavor he wanted?

          The Wiki article on Marsala mentions a number of recipes using marsala, e.g.
          "A typical Marsala sauce, for example, involves reducing the wine almost to a syrup with onions or shallots, then adding mushrooms and herbs"

        2. depends how much the recipe requires. if it's only a little, use the dry vermouth. if it's a lot, and you have other recipes that call for it (or you plan to make this one again), go buy some.

          oh, and *toss* the cooking sherry. it's nothing more than low-quality alcohol with salt added to it, and a great way to ruin a perfectly good recipe.

          6 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            yeah, those 'cookig wines & sherries' are an absolute disaster.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              it's only a third of a cup; i guess i can't go that wrong with vermouth or marsala. oh, and i just tasted the cooking sherry and it is so salty i almost spit it across the room! so that's out. (down the drain, actually.)

              1. re: foodshark73

                "i just tasted the cooking sherry"
                oy. had i known you were going to do that, i would have warned you! i don't normally like to encourage people to waste food, but i'm glad you dumped the cooking sherry. never buy anything labeled as "cooking" wine, sherry, etc. as i said earlier, it's all low-quality alcohol with added salt (and sometimes sugar). basic rule - if it's not good enough to drink, don't cook with it.

                anyway, i did some sleuthing based on the various tidbits of info you provided about the recipe, and i assume you're making the Pappardelle with Mushrooms and Tomato Cream Sauce from August '03 Gourmet Mag. i'm not sure which substitute you ended up using, but i definitely would have gone for the vermouth. marsala might have been a tad too sweet for the other ingredients & herbs in the dish.

                1. re: foodshark73

                  I'm still trying to figure out how they can see that stuff.

                  My response to what to substitute? I think marsala is too sweet, port too heavy. You are not going to substitute and get a likewise sauce. It will now be a new sauce, and my choice would be vermouth.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Is all marsala sweet? I just bought a bottle labeled 'dry'. Is that still sweeter than a medium-dry sherry?

                    Guess I need to taste it side by side with my cask of Amontillado :)

                    1. re: paulj

                      I know the bottle that I had was too sweet for me.

                      I found the taste to be almost cloying. I make a pork and mushroom dish, and I used a probably middle of the road, can't remember the name, but it was sweet not dry. I ended up throwing it out since I didn't use it that much and it began to look rather gunky. Much different taste to me than a sherry, which I do love.