Madeira wine is named after the Madeira islands in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Portugal, where the grapes for it are grown. Madeira has a sweet, caramelly flavor, but it isn't overpoweringly sweet. There's a smoky, nutty undertone to it as well.
The original demi-glace was made with Madeira wine, although these days it is a considerably simpler recipe. See this basic demi-glace recipe. It's simple, but not exactly quick. You can make your own the demi-glace the old-fashioned way — roasting bones, simmering, straining, and so on. You could also try this demi-glace shortcut recipe that you can make in about half the time it takes to make a regular one.
The shortcut recipe uses store-bought broth or stock, and the rest of the steps are the same. If you go this route, then making this Madeira sauce is easy enough — it's simply a matter of stirring some Madeira wine and butter into a demi-glace. A perfect choice for red meats, roasts, and steaks, it's also bold enough to accompany venison.
- 2 cups demi-glace
- ¼ cup Madeira wine
- 1 Tbsp butter
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the demi-glace to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the Madeira wine and swirl in the butter. Serve right away.
Stock and Demi-Glace Shortcuts
Truthfully, it's making the stock that's the most time-consuming part of making demi-glace. Using store-bought means your stock won't have the same body (meaning, the stock won't gel when it's chilled), but it's certainly a reasonable trade-off.
Or (I wouldn't blame you a bit) you could use one of the various sauce bases, so-called convenience products, that (truth be told) are what a great many restaurants, even nice ones, use for making their demi-glace. Add water to these sauce bases and you have instant demi-glace. It's actually a very reasonable solution for people that don't want to experience life in a medieval kitchen — they just want to make a nice meal.
Once upon a time, 500 to 600 years ago when Portuguese ships ruled the seas, the sailors discovered that their wine kept going bad on their long voyages. Someone quite sensibly suggested adding more alcohol, in the form of brandy, to the wine, and lo and behold, not only did the wine not spoil, but it tasted great. So-called fortified wines were born. Fortified wines such as Port, Sherry, Marsala, and Madeira are the surviving legacy of this ingenious innovation.