Have you ever had an opened bottle of Pinot Noir left over from a wine tasting party or the Chardonnay you meant to drink but didn’t because you were already full? It won’t be long until the flavor deteriorates and become vinegary, so what will you do to your precious wine?
If you’re not up for drinking, you can always incorporate your leftover wines into your cooking, baking, or cocktail-making! And if the taste is beyond saving, don’t pour leftover wine into the sink just yet because it will be beneficial to some household applications.
Keep reading to learn more innovative ideas about making the most of an unfinished bottle of wine!
Ways to Use Wine in Food and Drinks
Wine has such a versatile and complex flavor profile, so it’s easy to combine with various ingredients, whether for entrées, desserts, or drinks.
Being made from grapes, wine is known for its acidity, which is what tenderizes meat and fish by breaking down muscle fibers. The alcohol content will also evaporate during cooking, leaving only the flavors of the wine.
Because red wine can stain, it’s best reserved for red meats like beef, pork, venison, and mutton. For chicken, fish, and tofu, you can use leftover white wine instead. If you want more flavorful meat, we recommend marinating it overnight in the refrigerator.
But fish shouldn’t be marinated longer than 30 minutes because wine can cook the flesh, causing it to flake out. When it’s time to pan-fry or roast your meat, you can baste the marinade on the meat to keep it moist or make it into a sauce.
Related: Red Wine Vs. White Wine
Transforming wine into your own wine vinegar is perhaps the easiest application but the most time-consuming. You just need to transfer the wine into a jar and mix it with unpasteurized vinegar, which contains a vinegar bacteria called Mother of vinegar (AKA Mycoderma aceti).
Then, cover the jar with a cheesecloth and tie a rubber band around it to secure it. This will keep flies away while allowing air to come into contact with the mixture. Let it ferment for 1-2 months at room temperature, away from sunlight, while stirring it once a week.
Once your wine has developed that sourness and acidity that red wine vinegar is known for, it’s time to strain the mixture and transfer it to a bottle. You can mix this homemade wine vinegar with olive oil and herbs to make a vinaigrette, marinades, pickles, and more.
Related: The Best Red Wine Vinegar
Wine jellies or jams are perfect treats for entertaining guests or just enjoying them at home for breakfast. The wine’s flavors make the finished product taste like an upgraded version of grape jelly. Furthermore, it can be made with any red or white wine you wish!
To achieve the gelatinous texture, add gelatine powder or dry pectin to the wine, along with sugar. Let it come to a boil until the sugar is dissolved, and allow it to cool before transferring it to jars. Serve it on toast, on a charcuterie board, or in a peanut butter sandwich.
Related: Beginner’s Guide To Red Wine
4. Cake Mixes
Wine adds delightful fruity flavors and aromas and boosts cakes’ sweetness to make them more delicious. It also helps bind together flour and fats, so cakes stay moist longer after being baked.
Red wines and fortified wines go perfectly with chocolate cakes, while white wines would be a better fit for vanilla cakes. You can also use sparkling wine like Prosecco or Champagne for a light and fluffy cake with the perfumy qualities of the wine.
Related: Champagne Vs. Prosecco
Making bread can be tricky, and adding wine to the dough only requires more practice. But if you want to delight yourself with bread that has a crispy crust, soft interior, and the flavors of wine, the process will be worth it.
Some people use a mixture of water and wine, while others omit the water and use more wine. White wine produces normal-looking bread, but red wine lends a light purple color to the final product. Adding fresh rosemary and black pepper can also make the bread more flavorful.
6. Ice Cubes
Red wine ice cubes in a tray and cutting board – Image from Bon Appetit
Freeze wine in an ice cube tray so they can be used later on for sauces or sangria. The size of each compartment of the ice tray is appropriately two tablespoons, so if a recipe calls for this amount, you don’t need to measure!
Adding wine ice cubes to drinks keeps them cold and adds more flavors without watering them down. You can also use them to make wine slushies and smoothies.
Related: Does Wine Freeze?
A red wine reduction sauce is among the best accompaniments with various steaks, and you can easily make it at home. Sauté onions in the pan where you cooked your meat, and add wine, beef stock, and salt. Reduce it to a syrupy texture, then add butter to emulsify the mixture.
If you want more flavor, you can add thyme, bay leaf, black pepper, etc. Moreover, leftover red wine can also be used to make a luxurious gravy or to add a twist to the classic tomato sauce.
If you’re a white wine fan, you can make a creamy pan sauce for chicken, seafood, and pasta dishes. This type of sauce usually features cream, mushrooms, cheese, spices, and herbs to achieve a rich taste with a hint of acidity from the wine.
Slices of red wine butter with herbs – Image by H-E-B
Making red wine butter is similar to a red wine reduction, but the butter is softened rather than reduced with the red wine, shallots, etc. Once the reduction is mixed with the butter, the mixture is whipped, wrapped, and chilled overnight for maximum flavor infusion.
The result is a compound butter with a fruity edge and light purple color, thanks to the wine. Top your steaks with a few slices and see how the butter elevates it. You can also spread it on bread to make a unique toast.
Scooping red wine syrup from a jar – Image by Cook Gem
Syrups are drizzled for a lot of treats, from ice cream to pancakes. If you want to have an upgraded syrup, why don’t you experiment by making your own with red wine? It simply requires boiling wine with sugar and letting it simmer to attain a honey-like consistency.
A bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz is a good choice because they have an intense fruity flavor. You can also add cinnamon, star anise, and other spices for added dimension. Beyond desserts, wine syrup will be great for salad dressings, fresh fruit, and marinades.
Related: The Best Cabernet Sauvignons
Cocktails often feature hard liquor as base spirits, but a handful of them use wine, which are a delight to try. If you want a medley of fruits, spices, and other ingredients with wine, you can try mulled wine or Sangria.
For quick cocktails, top your wine with carbonated water and garnish with a citrus fruit for a wine spritzer. If you want to try an interesting mix, make a Kalimotxo, a Spanish drink featuring red wine, cola, and citrus.
Related: The Best Wine Cocktails
One of the most versatile and easiest chocolate treats is ganache. It is a mixture of chocolate and cream that can have varying consistencies, depending on the ratio of the ingredients and temperature. You can use it as a glaze, filling, frosting, choco truffles, and more.
If you want to add more depth and complexity to the chocolate, a rich red wine should do the trick. It will impart an amazing fragrance and give the chocolate’s rich taste a nice acidic, fruity contrast.
Related: The Best Dry Red Wines
Perhaps the most popular ingredient when poaching with wine is pears, which results in a classic French dessert called Poire à la Beaujolais. Poaching uses slow and low cooking, which infuses the wine’s flavors into the pears, adds a vibrant color, and softens the flesh.
Full-bodied red wines like Merlot, Zinfandel, and Shiraz are usually used for poached pears. But if you’re poaching fish, dry white wines like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadet are preferred. You’re free to experiment with the type of wine and other ingredients to poach.
Related: The Different Types of White Wine
Just as how red wine goes well when eating red meat, it’s also good for cooking with red meat stews. The same goes for white wine and white meat. The wine’s acidity helps tenderize meat, while its fruitiness balances the meat’s savory flavor.
Stews are hearty dishes that can bring comfort to anyone. They may take quite a long time to cook, but every second is worth it. Try a classic recipe from the famous chef and author Julia Child – the Beef Bourguignon!
Jar and tray of red wine salt – Image by Hill Street Grocer
Infusing your ordinary salt with red wine is a creative way of adding flair to your dishes. To make it, reduce wine until it reaches a syrupy texture and then pour it in salt. Mixing thoroughly is important, so every grain of salt gets its share of that pure wine goodness.
The uses of red wine salt are the same as the salt you’re used to. You can add it to meat, fish, pasta, vegetables, chocolate desserts, and more. The wine also lends a beautiful purple color to the salt, making it look pretty.
Ways to Use Wine in Households/ Cosmetics
Aside from its delicious flavors, wine also has unique properties that make it useful for the following non-eating purposes.
15. Fabric Dye
Usually, red wine stains on a tablecloth are a problem rather than an intended outcome. The next time you spill wine, instead of reaching for the hydrogen peroxide bottle, grab a big pot and start washing your tablecloth, t-shirts, and bedsheets if you like!
This involves heating red wine in a pot first, then adding it to your cloth and stirring it with a spoon. After 10 minutes of continuous stirring, let the fabric cool. Finally, give it a water rinse.
Your cook times will vary substantially depending on the fabric’s kind, amount, and desired color. For a more stylish outcome, you can tie your cloth first for a cool tie dye!
16. Fly Trap
If your wine is becoming vinegary, you won’t want to drink it, but kitchen bugs might! If you’re annoyed by these pesky little pests, pour some of the acidic red wine into a glass, wrap it securely in plastic, and pierce the top with a few holes. Fruit flies will check in, but they won’t check out, just like the roach motel.
17. Homemade face mask
Wine is rich in antioxidants like resveratrol, which are good for keeping good skin and fighting against free radicals linked to premature aging. The polyphenols in wine can also help improve skin elasticity, rejuvenate the skin, reduce acne, and treat sunburn.
A wine face mask will do wonders if you have dry skin because its anti-inflammatory properties can help heal damaged skin cells. For a simple mask, mix plain yogurt and red wine. You can also use a combination of egg white, red wine, and organic honey.
18. Hair Conditioner/ Rinse
Antioxidants in wine can help strengthen hair follicles and prevent damage caused by DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is responsible for thinning hair and baldness. They can also help against dandruff and UV rays and make hair shinier.
To use red wine as a conditioner, mix one part of red wine with three parts of water. After shampooing, apply the mixture on your scalp and hair, then wrap your hair with a towel and leave it for 30 minutes. Afterward, rinse your hair with cold water.
Other people opt to rinse their hair with diluted red wine after putting on shampoo and conditioner. Since red wines have more antioxidants, they’re better suited for this purpose.
19. Bath Soak
One or two cups of leftover red wine can be added to your bath soak to take advantage of its antioxidants, which can heal skin damage caused by UV rays and the signs of aging. Its tartaric acid can also help exfoliate your skin to become smoother, softer, and more glowing.
20. Produce Cleaner
One of the simplest ways to prevent foodborne infections is by washing hands, surfaces, and food. If you’re about to use fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly with water first and then rinse or spray them with leftover wine.
The resveratrol in wine can kill bacteria like salmonella and E. coli that cause foodborne illnesses.
Instead of pouring wine that has become vinegary down the drain, pour it into your compost pile! A small amount of wine can release nitrogen which helps kickstart bacteria activity and accelerates the decomposition of the organic materials in your heap, especially wood.
You can also save water by substituting it with wine because, being a liquid, it can keep the compost moist to allow bacteria to do their job and complete the process. You can then add the compost to your plants for maximum growth.
Ways To Use Leftover Wine FAQ
1. How long does wine last?
Wines generally have a 2 to 10-year shelf life if unopened. Once the wine bottle has been opened, you’ll have about two to seven days to enjoy the wine. During this period, you can either drink the leftover wine or use it for cooking or baking.
It is recommended to close the bottle tightly and keep it in a cool, dark area. You can also use a wine preserver to prolong its shelf life a bit.
2. How to know if wine has gone bad?
A wine that has gone bad is most likely oxidized, so you’ll see that its color is changed. Red wine is no longer deep purple but orange or brown, and white wine will have lost its clear light yellow and become a dark yellow hue.
Moreover, the wine will have unpleasant aromas and will taste sour or vinegary. Too many sediments in the wine or loose corks are also an indication of a wine that has gone bad.
Whenever you can’t finish an entire bottle of wine, don’t beat yourself up because there are many ways to make the most of it.
Whether you’ll use your leftover wine for homemade red wine vinegar, mulled wine, or any other purpose, we guarantee that you can benefit from the wine’s flavors and other unique properties without being drunk!
Are you excited to try any of the cool ways to utilize wine? We’d love to know what you think in the comments below!
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