5 Ways to Use Old Wine

November 1, 2019

As much as we might try, it’s not always possible to finish an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, or even over the course of a few days. Maybe you opened a bottle the night before a business trip or vacation, or perhaps the week is filled with kids activities and it’s going to be take-out and late nights for the next several days, or maybe you opened a bottle and it just didn’t taste very good.

Whatever the reason, there will come a time when you have leftover wine that is no longer drinkable, but that you also don’t want to dump down the drain. There is no need to waste that wine. Here are a few things you can do with it instead.

1. Cooking

There are lots of recipes out there that call for wine as an ingredient. Wine adds acidity, sweetness and flavor to a dish. Homemade pasta sauce is a perfect use for old wine, and I add it to my family’s generational bolognese sauce recipe. However, one of my other favorite wine recipes is a Red Wine Risotto:

  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice, or medium-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over very low heat.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Repeat, adding 3/4 cup of hot broth 2 more times, stirring often, about 12 minutes longer. At this point, the risotto can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate the risotto (the rice will still be firm) and remaining broth, uncovered, until cool, then cover and keep them refrigerated until ready to proceed.
  3. Bring the remaining broth to a simmer, then cover and keep it warm over very low heat. Stir 3/4 cup of hot broth into the partially cooked risotto over medium heat until the broth is absorbed and the risotto is hot, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining broth and simmer until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Sprinkle additional cheese over and serve.

(Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)

2. Marinade

Make a wine marinade for steak or chicken.

  • 1 cup wine (red wine for steak, white wine for chicken)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over meat/poultry and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before cooking.

3. Homemade Vinegar

Wine will naturally turn to vinegar over time, so why not help the process along so you can put that vinegar to good use? For a constant supply of vinegar…

  1. Pour your leftover wine into a wide-mouthed jar or other container.
  2. Add a “mother of vinegar” to the wine (which can be purchased online), or add live, organic vinegar, such as Braggs Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, to the wine in a 2:1 ratio of wine to vinegar. This will provide the necessary bacteria culture to start fermentation.
  3. Cover the container with a cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Set it aside in a warm location out of direct sunlight. Give it a stir or shake every few days.
  4. Start tasting it after a week to see how it’s coming along. In a few weeks the “mother” will settle on the bottom of the jar and the vinegar above it will be ready for use.
  5. Keep adding more leftover wine to the jar as you use the vinegar.

4. Vinaigrette

Don’t have the time or patience to turn your wine into vinegar, but still want to make a delicious vinaigrette? You’re in luck. Here’s a recipe for using wine in place of vinegar to make a nice dressing.

  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey if the wine is dry. If using a sweet wine, omit the honey.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Blend or whisk the wine, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking/blending.

5. Wine reduction

This red wine reduction enhances the flavor your dish when spooned over beef or pork.

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Coat a pan with olive oil.
  2. Add the shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the red wine, stock and tomato paste and reduce by half (10-15 minutes).
  4. Add the butter, salt and chopped rosemary.

Bonus: Freeze it

When in doubt, freeze the wine for use at a later time. The best way to freeze wine is to pour it into an ice cube tray. When frozen, pop out the cubes into a plastic freezer bag and store them in your freezer. When an opportunity arises, just toss a few cubes into any recipe that calls for wine.


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