7 Best Substitutes for Port Wine

Desperately in need of a last-minute port wine substitute? These seven best ingredient and drink alternatives will get you out of trouble.

port wine substitutes

Port wine is a staple in many homes, but it can be expensive and hard to find. If you love the taste of port wine, and want to make sure that your favorite bottle isn’t empty next time you need it, we have compiled a list of 7 great substitutes for port wine. We hope this list will help fill those empty spaces on your shelf!

Chianti

When looking for a good substitute for port, you need to make sure that the flavors in the substitute match those found in port and that the substitution can be seamless. This will largely depend on what it is going to be used for. Chianti is a red wine made in the Chianti region of Tuscany. It’s a blend of Sangiovese grapes which are indigenous to Tuscany, Italy. 

It’s a spicy and tart wine and, as such, works well as a substitute for Port. It also has some herb-like notes to it. Chianti has the same sweet and fruity flavors that port does. In addition to this, chianti has cherry notes. However, it is more acidic than port, and it’s also drier, primarily if you use it for cooking. 

Use less chianti than port because of the drying effect it has. However, you can expect it to be lighter than Port. 

Merlot

It’s a red wine, made from grapes from America. The grapes are soft and luscious, and this translates into the wine. It can be used as pure fruit, or you can blend it with others to develop different varieties. It is a dark-colored wine that is popular for its low tannins and soft taste. 

Merlot has a fruity flavor, which is very similar to port. Its soft texture makes it an excellent substitute for Port. Merlot is especially an excellent substitute for port when cooking beef or duck recipes. It also does well with recipes that have tomato-based sauces. It works well with dark meats and adds a softness to it as well. 

To get the right taste, substitute an equal amount of merlot for Port. 

Zinfandel

It’s made from a red grape called Zinfandel. This is a fruity wine that is also characterized by medium acidity. It comes in different varieties according to how long it is fermented. Its sweetness makes it a good dessert wine and also pairs well with grilled meat. It’s red, and as such, it’s a good substitute for a ruby port. Pink zinfandel is lightly fermented and, as such, will have less tartness and acidity. It is not as bold as the flavor you will get with red zinfandel wade from a deeper red grape in terms of flavor. It is fermented longer, and as such, it tastes more potent and more like blackberry. 

Zinfandel has bold, spicy flavors which can easily match the taste delivered by port. There are different varieties of Port and also other varieties of zinfandel. Choose the lighter zinfandel to replace the lighter port. It has the same fruit-like notes to it as Port does. The difference comes in that it has a lower alcohol content than port. As such, it is often used by beginners. 

To substitute it for Port, use equal amounts.

Shiraz

It’s a fruity wine made from dark-skinned grapes. It has a fruity yet bold and full-bodied taste. It offers a more jammy type of aroma and is a deep purple-ish color. Its alcohol content is lower than port, but it still packs quite a punch 15%. However, this level depends on where the grapes are grown.

Its fruity yet full flavors make it a good substitute. This means that it efficiently replicates some of the characteristics of Port. It also has some woody notes to it. 

You can use an equal amount of shiraz for port

Madeira

This wine is fortified just like Port is, and it has its origins in the Madeira Islands of Portugal. There are different varieties which range from dry to sweet. The one that you choose to substitute for Port will need to match the purpose port was playing. You can even get it in cheaper cooking versions which are seasoned with salt already. 

It’s a fortified red wine with high acidity levels, just like port. It also comes in varieties that can match the varieties of Port. 

You can use an equal amount of shiraz for port

Dry Vermouth

This is a fortified wine that has distinct aromas. It is often confused with a spirit, but on the contrary, it’s a wine with a bit of brandy in it. It has an infusion of spices and herbs as well, and this brings the taste close to Port. This infusion also influences the color and flavor. The solid and high alcohol content means that you should use it sparingly when cooking with it. It is mainly used as an aperitif wine, which means that it is a pre-meal wine. 

It is fortified just like Port is. The flavors are intense, and as such, it matches what you get with port. Just like port, it can also be used as a pre-meal drink.

You can use the taste test to know how much vermouth to use in place of Port. But generally, you can use the same amount.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is a non-alcoholic substitute that you can use for Port. It is often the option for those who do not want to use alcohol in recipes. What fruit juice will do, is that it will add a fruity flavor to your recipe. However, you may miss some of the punch that comes with the alcohol content in port. 

It has the fruity taste you get in port. It works well for dessert recipes. It does not do well for soup recipes. Also, make sure that you use unsweetened juice. 

When you use fruit juice in marinades, make sure to use less than you would use Port. Steer clear of soup recipes if fruit juice will be your chosen substitute. If you feel that it’s a bit flat when you taste it and you miss the acidity of port, you can add lemon zest.