Every so often it happens that I’m ready to dive into a recipe and I suddenly realize I don’t have a key ingredient – like port wine for instance. Not one to be easily daunted, I’m determined to move ahead with the recipe, knowing there has got to be a suitable port wine substitute (fingers crossed that I’ll have it in the house). Sure enough, there ARE viable options for a port wine substitute.
If you are preparing beef, some say that any sweet red wine could be used as a substitute for port wine, but according to a very reliable source, Cooks Thesaurus, generally speaking, your best options for a port wine substitute are:
- Madeira wine
- dry vermouth
- unsweetened fruit juice
- beef or chicken stock (for making meat-based sauces)
Source: Cooks Thesaurus
I have also, but less frequently seen these suggestions for a port wine substitute:
- White Zinfandel – Sweet, dry, with a low alcohol content, White Zinfandel is low in calories and affordable. It has a lingering fruity taste and the ability to change the texture of the food.
- Riesling – Very aromatic with sweet and tart fruity flavors, the alcohol content varies depending upon the individual wine because of the differences in the fermentation process, but Riesling usually has under 12.5 % of alcohol. It goes great with poultry.
- Chardonnay -One of the most most well known white wines today, chardonnay’s most prominent flavor is oak, but there are also traces of lemon, melon, fruits, grass and vanilla. Its high acidity and medium alcohol content make it ideal for poultry, seafood, and dishes that use heavy cream.
More About Port Wine
Port is a Portuguese wine that is typically a sweet, red wine. Its commonly served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties and is used in sauces for meat (frequently beef). Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia, France, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, Spain and the United States.
A rich wine with wweet tastes like raspberry, blackberry, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate, the two most frequent styles of this wine include Tawny Port with caramel and nut flavors, and red Port with berry and chocolate flavors.
Cooking with Port
Preparing food with Port wine intensifies the taste of a dish and gives it a beautiful aroma. Because it is fortified (bolstered in brandy and higher in alcohol), it stands up to heat well and holds on to its core flavor.
Port is a popular addition to chocolate sauces and chocolate cakes. It is also used as a reduction for savory meals, like steak. Due to its sweetness, it can also serve as a flavorful alternative to maple syrup or brown sugar. However, it can go well with a lot of other foods, such as pork and beef.
But not everyone just happens to have a bottle of port in the house at any given time, so when you’ve come across a recipe that you’re eager to dig in to, and you discover you don’t have the port it calls for, check your cabinet for one of the port wine substitutes suggested here, and then its on with the show!