The recipe calls for Madeira but I am thinking about using another wine. My choices are: Pernod, Calvados, pinneau du Terrier or dry sherry. What does anyone recommend on this subject?

7 Answers 7


I would say dry sherry was the closest equivalent to Madeira wine. I sometimes use dry sherry in place of dry white wine in cooking, I just use slightly less of it.


Unless you for some reason require any distinct taste from the Madeira, Sherry should be similar enough to be used as a substitute.

I am not sure why you suggest Pernod (anise flavoured liqueurs) or Calvados (apple based brandy)? "Pinneau du Terrier" is unknown both to me and to Google.


I think the OP means Pineau de Charentes which is a white wine fortified with cognac from the cognac region of France and makes a great substitute.


Have used sherry instead of madeira in a mushroom risotto which tasted horrible. A better substitute was dry white wine but this does not have the same flavour as when I have used Madeira. The Madeira adds a beautiful depth which the white wine lacked. Hope this helps.


If it's a dry sherry, I'd add some sugar to it ... around 1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup. Light brown sugar would be best. Madeira is significantly sweeter than dry sherry. A Ruby Port would be a much better substitute.

None of your options is really going to taste like Madeira, though, so if the wine is a major flavor component of the dish, you're about to be very disappointed.


The only close substitute in my mind would be a Fino sherry, as it is the only one that offers the nuttiness that a Madeira does.

It doesn't really make a sense to me to use an anise flavored spirit like Pernod, or to a lesser degree, an apple brandy like Calvados. An obscure and not inexpensive wine like a like a pinneau is odd too. White wine also doesn't seem good, as it is light years away from the taste and characteristics of a wine like Madeira.

  • 2
    These aren't random suggestions, these are what the OP had on hand and the OP is wondering which would be the most appropriate substitute.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 20:26
  • ...and the OP has dry sherry, so it also seems odd to suggest a specific sherry, implying that other sherries won't be good.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 23:04

An old chef's trick is to use vermouth, you can get bianco if you want sweet end or Rosso for closer to wine, the green dry vermouth is ok too. Start with a little and work up to desired strength, maybe add a little brown sugar too.

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