Not everyone has this problem, as many of my friends like to attest that they NEVER have leftover wine, but some of us do and we hate to waste good wine. Over the years I’ve come up with some uses that go beyond “make sangria,” though that is always a fun option. Here are my top five great things to do with leftover red wine.
- Cook, cook, cook, cook and cook. I could call that five things right there, and it certainly is my top thing to do with leftover red wine. I keep the leftover red wine in my fridge until ready to use, which keeps it in fine shape for cooking for a couple of weeks, if not in as fine a shape for drinking. From wine-based marinara, to Osso Buco, to the classic Boeuf Bourguignon, there are lots of great recipes that use red wine. Just recently I made a three bean, three meat, three alarm chili and used half bottle of red wine as my deglazing liquid and the chili was excellent. The wine gave depth without overwhelming the spicy richness of the chili. Either the wine is used to break down the protein as with Boeuf Bourguignon and other braising techniques, or the wine makes a great deglazing agent when you‘ve cooked down your onions and vegetables. If you want to limit the acid taste that accompanies cooking with red wine then cook the wine down on its own, first, which mellows the harsher tannins.
- Mull that wine! Add some heat, some spices, some herbs and maybe a little fruit or brandy and you’ve got a perfect winter evening treat. Yes, this sounds like hot sangria, but the spices used like warming cinnamon, clove and allspice, tend to give mulled wine a different flavor profile than the typical sangria.
- Make red wine vinegar and bottle it to give to your family and friends. Since the wine wants to be vinegar, anyway, this is easier than you might think, especially if you have herbs growing in your garden. A few sprigs of oregano, sage, basil and thyme placed in the bottom of a re-closeable bottle (cleaned and sanitized Grolsch bottles work well). I use a chopstick to push the herbs to the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle to two-thirds with leftover red wine and then top off with some vinegar you have on hand as “the mother.” In a few weeks you have a lovely herb-infused red wine vinegar to use on salads or in other recipes. Make decorative labels and give it away.
- Freeze your excess red wine in an ice cube tray and use for future wine punches or aforementioned sangrias. This way you won’t water down your cool winey concoctions while keeping them cool.
- Reduce down your extra wine with a couple of tablespoons of sugar as a sauce or glaze for red or black fruit desserts. You can add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder if you’re matching chocolate confections, like chocolate tortes, chocolate pound cakes and chocolate brownies. Do a little research online and you’ll also find lots of desserts that use red wine in the recipe anyway. I’ve had incredible Zin cake and Port wine cakes, though I might try and use fresher leftover red wine for these recipes, and older left over red wine for saucy reductions.
There are lots of uses for leftover red wine that have nothing to do with household cleaning, so don’t dump that bottle, stick it in the fridge and make something with it!
Daniel Eddy, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Wine & Spirits Supervisor