Food & Wine

Dry Marsala Wine Substitutes

Each dish is made from a variety of ingredients that are combined together to create a delicious dinner. Some of the most delectable meals, both savory and sweet, need rare components such as Marsala wine.

Chicken Marsala, a popular Italian-American supper, wouldn’t be the same without its main component, Marsala wine. Alternatively, consider how amazing Traditional Italian Tiramisu is when you include Marsala wine as one of its components.

Marsala wine is a popular food wine in Italy, and it has been used as a cooking wine for hundreds of years in homes throughout the world. But what happens if you can’t locate a bottle of Marsala at your local shop the next time you want to make your rich Tiramisu? Or, one of your visitors is a teetotaler and you need to use something non-alcoholic as an alternative?

Finding a suitable alternative for Marsala wine may appear to be difficult.

However, to spare you the trouble, we’ve conducted the study and compiled a list of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic substitutes for Marsala wine.

By utilizing a substitute ingredient that has the same flavor as Marsala, you may still create your popular dish that requires Marsala but with a different color and taste.

Dry Marsala Wine Substitutes

What is Marsala Wine?

Marsala wine is made in Sicily, Italy. It’s named for the Italian town of Marsala, which straddles the border of this wine-producing region.

It’s a fortified wine, comparable to Sherry or Madeira, that has been used as a cooking wine for decades. It may also be sipped on its own or with food. Marsala is available in both dry and sweet versions in liquor shops, supermarkets, and wine clubs across the world.

A genuine Marsala from Sicily has enticing tastes including stewed apricot, brown sugar, and notes of vanilla, and tamarind.

When tasting this wine, experts notice notes of smoky tobacco and oak. These unique qualities make meals like Chicken Marsala so delicious when combined with this wine as one of the ingredients.

Licorice, dried fruit, Morella cherry, honey, apple, and walnuts are all present in some of the finest Marsala wines.

This wine is composed of white-grape varietals including Damaschino, Grillo, Inzolia, and Catarrattto. Red grapes occasionally make their way into the mix and all Marsala wines are fortified with brandy or another neutral distilled spirit.

What Makes Marsala Different From Other Wines?

Marsala, unlike other wines, has the following characteristics that distinguish it from the competition:

  • The distinctive aging process for top-quality Marsala wine is known as solera. This is a time-consuming technique that ages the wine in several barrels at once.
  • The Grillo grape is also used to produce Marsala wines, particularly those with a higher alcohol level. The flavor of these wines is typically enhanced by the addition of other varieties. They are often mixed with Sweet Marsala wines.
  • The dark amber color comes from the cooked grape “Mosto Cotto” must.
  • Brandy or another distilled beverage produced with grapes from the same region is added to Marsala wine to strengthen it.

The manufacture of Marsala is a lengthy procedure that produces a distinctive wine appreciated by chefs and vintners throughout the world.

What You Need to Know About Marsala Wine When Cooking

There are several Marsala wine varieties available depending on the type of grapes used and the winemaking technique. This wine can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet, and it comes in three different colors: gold, red, and amber.

Marsala wine develops distinctive flavors when opened, and it can last for up to a month when left untouched. It must, however, be kept in a dark, cool place to maintain its excellence.

Dry Marsala gives you more options in the kitchen. It’s also ideal for savory starters and meals with mushrooms, veal, turkey, or beef tenderloin. This wine adds a toasty flavor to these meals while caramelizing them.

Sweet Marsala can be used in all of the recipes mentioned above, including chicken and pork loin. It’s wonderful for a variety of sweet dishes like Tiramisu or chocolate mousse, which require this wine to be used as an ingredient. While sweet Marsala can be substituted with dry Marsala in some cases, it’s not suggested that you swap the sweet wine with the drier alternative in dessert recipes.

For culinary usage, many chefs prefer to utilize Marsala wine which is at the bottom of the price range. This wine is most often known as Fino, Superiore, or Fine Marsala. These are available in gold and amber colors. Although Ruby Marsala isn’t uncommon, some recipes may call for it.

Marsala Wine Substitutes

Marsala is a highly popular s wine in both Italy and the United States, where it’s used to add flavor to meat dishes like Chicken Marsala, Veal Marsala, and risotto. It’s frequently used in creamy sauces with meats as an accent. This fortified wine is also utilized in a variety of sweet desserts and cakes.

Marsala wine is a unique taste, and you may be wondering how to replace it with something else without losing the dish’s characteristic flavor. There are, however, several Marsala wine substitutes accessible that will produce nearly as delicious dishes when this ingredient is absent from your pantry!

Alcoholic Substitutes for Marsala Wine

Use one of these alternative spirits in place of Marsala wine in any recipe that calls for it.


Madeira wine is a wonderful alternative to Marsala if you’re looking for an alcoholic substitute. It has a similar flavor profile to Marsala and is readily available in most supermarkets throughout the country. Madeira is a fortified wine, which means it has extra alcohol added to it.

Dry Sherry

Though dry sherry may taste similar to sweet Marsala, it is a fortified wine that can replicate the flavors of sweet Marsala. However, avoid utilizing cooking sherry because it has too many additives, which eliminates many of the unique characteristics associated with Marsala. Sherry is available in most supermarkets.


Vermouth is a fortified wine in which the alcohol has been added to the original wine. It’s well-known for its wide range of aromas and is frequently utilized as a basis in mixed drinks. Sweet vermouth, according to some chefs, may be used with dry sherry to create a more Marsala-like flavor profile. Experiment until you discover what works best for you.

Amontillado and Pedro Ximenez

Marsala is a popular Italian sherry, and it may be used instead of Marsala in recipes. Sweet Marsala may be substituted with Pedro Ximenez, while dry Marsala can be replaced with Amontillado.

Dry White Wine

In recipes that call for dry Marsala, such as lasagna, turkey breast with Marsala sauce, and braised short ribs with mushrooms and marsala wine, you may use dry white wine instead. To improve the taste of the dish, add a dash of cognac or brandy to the wine before adding it to the recipe.

Sweet Riesling and Moscato

When combined with desserts, particularly Italian ones, these sweeter white wines are an excellent alternative to Marsala.

Brandy Combinations

Use the following substitutions for Marsala wine in most recipes:

  • Brandy and white wine: Simmer together 1 part brandy, 2 parts white wine, and a dash of salt until it reduces by half.
  • Brandy and white grape juice: Combine a teaspoon of brandy and a ⅓ cup of white grape juice in a mixing glass. Before adding the remaining components of the recipe, thoroughly mix them together.

Before adding combination components such as brandy and white grape juice or white wine, taste it.

Port Wine

This is a costly substitute for Marsala wine, but it’s worth it if you need to complete that Chicken Marsala dish. Port wine may be used as a flavoring in several sweet foods, but when replacing Marsala, you can also add dry, semi-dry, or white port.

Pinot Noir

Some chefs advocate using Pinot Noir wine. This, however, might only work for certain dishes that include meats such as chicken and pork. To get a Marsala-style taste, add some sugar to the wine.

Food Pairing: Alcoholic Substitutes for Drinking Marsala Wine

It complements foods like asparagus, broccoli, and chocolate when consumed with a meal. If your Marsala wine is all gone the next time you have visitors over for supper, use the following alcoholic beverages in its place:

  • Sherry
  • Madeira
  • Port

Even when opened, Marsala has a long shelf life, so if you’re serious about matching specific meals with the appropriate wine, it’s never too early to start building your cellar. This also applies to both drinking and cooking Marsala wines.

Non-Alcoholic Marsala Wine Substitutes

If your dish requires an alcoholic ingredient and you’re cooking for a group of friends or family, find out if there’s someone in the mix who doesn’t drink alcohol. You’ll also need to come up with a Plan B for Marsala wine when preparing your meal if you do discover that someone in the group can’t or won’t consume alcohol.

Balsamic Vinegar and Figs, Prunes, or Plums

Marsala wine may be correctly imitated with balsamic vinegar, figs, prunes, or plums. To produce the imitation Marsala wine, simmer the fruits over a low heat until reduced before straining through a fine sieve. To your savory dish, add some balsamic vinegar instead of Marsala wine to give it more flavor.

White Grape Juice

White grape juice can be used as a substitute for Marsala wine, but the following combination is far superior:

  • ¼ cup white grape juice
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Before adding the mixture to the recipe, combine all of the ingredients.

Red Grape Juice

Red grape juice is also a good choice for recipes that require white wine or sherry vinegar and vanilla extract to add a savory taste. Red grape juice may be used instead of Marsala in desserts and cakes, and it’s wonderful on its own as a substitute for sweet Marsala. Cranberry juice is another great non-alcoholic option.

Homemade Vegetable or Chicken Stock

You can replace marsala wine with a flavorful homemade vegetable or chicken stock. Marsala wine, on the other hand, may be replaced with a robust flavorful broth. While you’ll receive a rich creamy sauce using this stock, you won’t get the same tastes as the fortified wine. A spoonful of balsamic vinegar in the soup might improve its qualities.

Sage, Rosemary, and Figs

Add a little sage and rosemary to well-cooked figs for a delicious Marsala wine stand-in. Puree the figs, sage, and rosemary before using them in a dish that requires Marsala as an ingredient.

Marsala, on the other hand, provides richness and complexity to a dish. This will result in a dish with no sign of Marsala and will ruin the delicate aromas associated with it. To taste the sauce, add it in spoonfuls until you’re happy with how delicious it is.

Balsamic Vinegar and Sugar

Balsamic vinegar can be used in place of Marsala wine in most savory recipes. However, to balance out the acidity of the vinegar, add some sugar. Honey can also be used instead of sugar. It will take some trial and error to get the ideal combination.

Look for a balsamic reduction, which may be found in some specialty shops. This is a gluten-free product made with balsamic vinegar that has been simmered until reduced to a thicker consistency.

Final Thoughts

When a recipe calls for Marsala wine, you should use it as much as possible since doing so will help to preserve the dish’s distinctive tastes imparted by this alcoholic beverage.

Marsala wine, when properly stored, has a long shelf life and tastes great. Having an extra bottle on hand for culinary usage will avoid you from tracking down alternatives.

Substitutes, on the other hand, are used in order to make meals. And when preparing food for a crowd on the spur of the moment, having replacement ingredients on hand frequently saves the day! This includes instances when you want to cook something with Marsala wine.

Balsamic vinegar, white or red grape juice, herbs, and fruits such as plums, figs, or prunes should all be in every kitchen.

If alcohol content is not an issue, keeping a bottle of Port, Madeira, or dry Sherry on hand for culinary purposes when searching for a Marsala wine replacement isn’t going to be a disaster.

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