Can another wine be substituted for marsala?

alisandeOctober 19, 2008

I found a recipe for Chicken Marsala that I'd like to try, but I have no marsala. I do have 34 bottles of other wines, however, and wondered if I could substitute one of them. But other than the bottle of sherry and a couple of bottles of riesling for my DIL who likes it, all my wines are dry. Is marsala sweet?



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Yes, it is sweet.

Sure you could use any wine in the recipe and it will come out good, but it is not going to taste the same.

You could also substitute veal for the chicken in the recipe and it will still taste good, but it won't taste like chicken. Veal Marsal is very popular.

Have you ever had Chicken Marsala in a restaurant or anywhere? If you have not, you won't know the difference if you substitute the Marsala wine with something else.

Read about Marsala wine:

Here is a link that might be useful: All About Marsala Wine.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Thanks, Dilly! That was interesting. I didn't realize marsala was a fortified wine. Yes, I've had Chicken Marsala--a long time ago, but that's why I thought marsala might be sweet.

I'll wait till I can buy a bottle. I'm going shopping today, but unfortunately our liquor stores are closed on Sunday.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 1:06PM
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If you are feeling creative when you cook try substituting brandy or flavored brandy for wine in dishes. It gives a dish more ooomph in flavor than wimpy wine. I like to deglaze pans with brandy when I saute. Make sure you burn off all the alcohol when cooking with wine or spirits or your dish will have too much bite.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 1:44PM
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I bought a bottle of marsala specifically for Chicken Marsala. It tastes just like sherry to me. You could use that or port if you have it.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 2:06PM
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Hi Patti - The recipe calls for marsala and sherry. Actually, it says "cooking sherry." I have cream sherry, and I figure that will do it for the sherry part.

I'll link the recipe below for anyone who's interested. As you'll see, it got lots of great reviews. Of course, a lot of people make modifications. I can relate....

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken Marsala

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 2:18PM
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When I make chicken marsala, I never have that wine so I use a medium sherry. My favorite for this dish is Harvey's Bristol Cream. Yummy!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 3:04PM
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Keep in mind that *cooking sherry* that you buy at the grocer has loads of salt in in. This may affect the taste of the dish. Sometimes there are other additives as well.

Manufacturers add the salt to make it technically 'undrinkable' so it is not taxed as wine/liquor and can be sold in grocery stores at any hour or day without regulation, unlike regular drinking sherry.

Cooking sherry is always of the lowest quality grapes. Go with real sherry.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 3:51PM
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FlamingO in AR

I use the Marsala wine that is sold near the vinegars in the grocery store. I have no complaints about it, but some people consider it inferior to a regular bottle of Marsala.

Found this though- "Without marsala try substituting gewurtzaminer & sauternes. Balance the flavors until you like how dry or sweet it is. "

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 4:34PM
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Hmmm. Where I live liquor, beer, and wine cannot be sold in grocery stores along side food items like that. It must be displayed in a separate room that is locked during 'off times' of no allowed sale. I thought Arkansas had even stricter laws.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 9:39PM
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FlamingO in AR

My favorite local grocery store sells beer and wine right next to the milk and dairy case. No locks involved.

The cooking wines are right next to the vinegars, as I stated previously. They come in small, 16 oz or so sized, bottles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pompeian Cooking Wines

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 10:09PM
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I would use Sherry.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Marsala has a very distinctive flavor as does sherry. If you want it to taste like chicken Marsala, I would use Marsala wine. Also, cream sherry and dry sherry taste very different.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 9:14AM
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flamingo_ar, Right in your link you posted it says "The addition of salt, which also stabilizes them when stored for up to a year after opening, takes them out of the drinking wine classification, so they are available in supermarkets and other stores."

This is what I was trying to say in my previous post. "Cooking wine" is not real table wine and no decent chef would use it in a dish. The stuff you are talking about is considered a 'wine product' and can be sold anywhere and even to underage and minors very much like the way bitters is sold in grocery stores even though it is 90 proof, or vanilla, which also has a high alcohol content.

I am aware of the differences in state laws regarding alcohol sales. I have been stunned to see liquor stores open at midnight and 24/hr nightclubs, and just as stunned finding dry counties and Blue Laws still in force in large cities. No Champagne brunch on Sundays. :(

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 1:48PM
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Well, I got my marsala. The guy in the liquor store asked if I was making Chicken Marsala, and when I said yes he asked for leftovers. :-)

I haven't tasted it yet, but it sure smells like sherry.

I've seen Goya cooking wine in the supermarket selling for $2 for a 750 ml bottle. I've wondered how they can get away with selling 12% alcohol (cheap!) in the supermarket, but I guess the salt explains that. No danger of anyone drinking it.

By the way, I had a nice wine last night: Earthquake Petite Sirah. I think it was 2005. It was big and powerful, as they say.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Just wanted to add that the Chicken Marsala was delicious. I tweaked the recipe a bit, omitting the butter and using a small amount of Smart Balance instead, and using all marsala instead of adding sherry. It was very yummy.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 9:27PM
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