Whenever I get to cook, recipes with wine is just one of my favorite dishes that I always look forward too. I like how wine, as an ingredient, can bring out the best in a dish. I just love how it can improve the flavor of any dish and what’s even more is that it heightens the aroma, making a simple dish into an extraordinary experience.
One of my favorite wines to use for my recipes is the Port Wine. This type of fortified wine (which means extra alcohol has been added during fermentation, it contains around 17 to 120 percent alcohol compared to most wines which are greater to the regular wines with 12.5 to 14.5 percent.), is commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine actually originated from Portugal. It is rich with different sweet tastes like cinnamon, blackberry, chocolate and caramel that's why it has been popularly used for marinades, soups, and desserts.
If you’re not familiar with Port Wine or it is not being commonly sold in the nearby markets around you but have a recipe that requires it, well don’t worry! I have a list of the best substitute for Port Wine that could help you out.
So please keep on reading below to find out which wine is more accessible to you!
How To Choose a Wine To Replace Port Wine
Before you start choosing which wine you should use as a replacement to port wine in your recipe, there are a couple of things that you need to consider.
- 1Variety. Just like every other wine, port wine comes in different varieties. So you have to know and make sure which kind of port wine your recipe calls so you can choose the best alternative. There are two varieties you need to know: ruby port and tawny port; you can differentiate both by its color, ruby port comes in red while tawny has the color white.
- 2The recipe you are cooking. If your recipe doesn't specify what kind of port wine it requires, then I will help you make an educated guess. Ruby port is commonly used dishes that are meat based as well as chicken and other poultry recipes. Tawny Port, on the other hand, is often used for fish recipes. Just imagine what wine would you pair with your dish, it is also the wine you would want to use for your recipe.
- 3Quality. Well, without a doubt, the quality of your substitute wine will absolutely be important. But I am not saying that you have to buy an expensive wine to do this, just stay away from wines that you think you won’t be drinking on its own.
The Best Substitutes for Ruby Port
Chianti is one of the most well-known Italian wines all over the world. It is actually a red blend from Tuscany that can be a good alternative for Ruby Port, especially that its taste is very similar to cherries and strawberries.
But just be careful when using it for your recipe though, this wine actually has high acidity which can cut through the rich fat in some dishes.
In addition to Zinfandel being a good replacement for Port Wine in poultry dishes and casseroles, it can also be best used for dessert drinks that call for Port Wine. Zinfandel has this fruity flavor and medium acidity which makes it a great substitute.
But take note that this wine has one of the lowest alcoholic contents so you might notice some changes in our food texture, especially if you are using it for a sauce.
Syrah, which is also known as Shiraz, is another type of fruity red wine. It is rich with dark fruit flavors like blackberry, blueberry, and boysenberry. This one is my favorite alternative because of its spicy taste like black pepper, making it a good replacement for Port wine in dark meat recipes. It can also be used in stews and casseroles.
Plus, it contains about 14 to 20 percent of alcohol, so you don’t have to worry about your food’s texture, especially when you are preparing a sauce that calls for Port Wine with it.
The Best Substitutes for Tawny Port
1. White Zinfandel
White Zinfandel is actually a dry, sweet, low in calories, comes in low alcohol content and is very affordable. Though it is really not white, but rather a drier version of the red zinfandel, it has this lingering fruity flavor that you shouldn't miss.
Again, remember that White Zinfandel also has low alcoholic content like Red Zinfandel, so you keep in mind your food’s texture when cooking.
Riesling is one of the sweetest variety of white wine with tart fruity flavors that has almost the same sweetness of Port Wine. It is also one of the most aromatic wines, plus it has a high alcohol content so it will work well with poultry like how Tawny Port do.
Riesling actually works very well as a dessert wine too.
Chardonnay is one of the most famous white wine today with oak as one of its most prominent flavor, but there can also be traces of fruits, lemon, vanilla, melon, and grass.
Anyway, what makes this a good substitute for Tawny Port is its high acidity and a medium alcohol content that works well in poultry and seafood dishes like salmon, shrimp, etc. and also especially for recipes that use heavy cream.
Other Good Alternatives for Port Wine
What I like about this fortified wine is that it offers different levels of sweetness. Madeira also comes in various types and each has a different price. For instance, the single-varietal Madeira can be really expensive, but it is also one of the wines with the highest quality. Though most expert chefs agree that when you are cooking, an inexpensive wine is just as great as a luxurious one
So if you’d like to cook with and enjoy sipping your Madeira, I highly suggest you'd go with a single-varietal version like Boal, Sercial or Verdelho. All these wines work great as an alternative to Port Wine. But if you’re just going to use it for your recipe, then a basic blend will do.
What makes Vermouth a good substitute for Port Wine is the reason that both wines are fortified. Vermouth has the right amount content of alcohol.
There are actually two types of Vermouth: sweet and dry; so you have the choice of matching the sweetness you want for your recipe. What I like about Vermouth is that it doesn’t only work well in cooking, but it is also very affordable.
3. Black Muscat
Black Muscat has the same fruity sweet taste of Port Wine but it is considerably sweeter, making it a good substitute for Ruby Ports, as long as you are using it in small amounts.
It is also good that this wine has about 15 percent alcohol content, so it will more likely give out a rather fine texture when you are using it to prepare with sauces.
4. Fruit Juice
If there’s no any wine lying around your home when your recipe is calling for a Port Wine, well you can actually try out fruit juice. Believe it or not, this actually holds up pretty well in replacing Port Wine in your recipe; especially if you want to make sure that your recipe does not contain any alcohol.
Just use unsweetened fruit juice so you can you can keep the taste of the recipe the same. You can even tone down the sweetness by adding citrus, which is acidic. Anyway, this substitute is best used as a substitute for dessert recipes, but it can also be used for meat dishes. But I have to warn you, the food texture will really be different though.
Just don't use this as a substitute for soup recipes and make sure to go light whenever you use this for a marinade.
5. Chicken Stock
I know you are even more surprised to see chicken stock on this list, but it can actually fill up the role of Tawny Port. But I must say, this is definitely going to be big shoes to fill! The taste will, of course, be very different from you would get with Tawny Port but you will at least surprisingly get the texture.
Without a doubt, wine can definitely add a unique character to your dish and that different variety of wine can provide its own personality to every dishes. What makes Port Wine as one of the most favorite ingredients is definitely its distinct flavor that intensifies the taste of the recipe.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find in the market but there’s nothing to worry about, you can explore this list of substitute for Port Wine. How about you? Have you already used an alternative to your port wine? Let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear from you.
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