The Best Ways to Use Up Leftover Wine, According to a Winery Chef
We've all been there; you open a bottle of beautiful red wine only to enjoy one or two glasses before putting the cork back in and popping the bottle back on the shelf. Before you know it, the wine has lost its wonderful complexity, depth, and freshness.
But don't cry over wasted wine! Revitalizing the juice is easier than you think, from cooking with it or turning it into another boozy treat. Executive chef Rachel Haggstrom from JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery shares her favorite ways store and enjoy leftover wine, so you never have to let your wine leftover go to waste again.
First, How to Store Leftover Wine
If you don't drink an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, after a few days, the leftover wine in the bottle will become exposed to air and will, therefore, oxidize, causing the wine to break down and taste stale or even burnt. To slow the oxidation process, Haggstrom recommends popping the cork back in the bottle and sticking it in the refrigerator to slow the oxidation process.
How long does opened wine last? Generally, white and rosé wines should last for about 2-3 days in the refrigerator, and reds should last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator (generally, wines with more tannin and acidity will last a little longer after opening.) Whether you plan to cook with the wine or drink it, keeping it as fresh as possible in the refrigerator is your best bet for success. (Related: Are the Sulfites In Wine Bad for You?)
How to Cook with Leftover Wine
Make or Enhance BBQ Sauce
One of Haggstrom's favorite ways to repurpose leftover wine is by adding it to everyone's favorite summer condiment; barbecue sauce. She recommends using a bold, flavorful red wine like JUSTIN's 2017 Trilateral, a blend of grenache, syrah, and Mourvedre. (A cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc or merlot would do the trick as well.) The smoky, cherry hinted wine is the perfect complement to a sweet and sticky barbecue sauce.
When making homemade BBQ sauce, Haggstrom recommends adding a few glugs of spare red wine to the recipe for some extra tang. If you'd like to try this tip with a premade bottle of BBQ, bring a cup of wine to a simmer in a pan over medium to high heat. Once the wine has reduced by about half and the alcohol has cooked out, stir in about two cups of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce.
Rehydrate Dried Fruits
Summer salads are so much better with a bit of sweetness, and dried fruits are a great way to elevate your average arugula or spinach salad. Before you throw in those raisins, dried cherries or dried figs, rehydrate them first in some dry white wine for anywhere from an hour to overnight, in just enough wine to cover them completely, says Haggstrom. Before you know it, you'll have plump, juicy bits of dried fruit that are perfect in everything from salads to cheese plates.
Make Boozy Jam
Summer means an abundance of beautiful fruit, so leftover wine likely isn't the only leftover you're cooking with. One easy way to use up excess wine and excess berries, peaches, or plums? Compotes and jams are Haggstrom's go-to method for repurposing excess of both wine and fruit.
To make her compote recipe, she combines equal parts sugar and wine in a pan over medium heat and cooks the mixture gently until the sugar is dissolved, the wine reduces (causing the alcohol to cook out), and the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Next, she adds two parts fresh berries and cooks the mixture over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes so the fruit can caramelize while still maintaining some texture and integrity. With a method so simple; you can make your own compotes all year long to enjoy on toast, yogurt, or best yet: fresh waffles. (Also try this homemade chia see jam recipe from a dietitian.)
From tacos to pasta, there are plenty of ways to punch up an easy weeknight meal with a splash of leftover wine. Haggstrom says her favorite use for extra wine is as a base for braising meat. Braising meat, whether done on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a slow cooker, is a technique that cooks meat in a flavorful liquid over low, slow heat. Haggstrom loves to braise pork with wine, herbs, and stock for tacos al pastor, or braise beef with red wine and tomato sauce as a decadent pasta sauce.
How to Drink Leftover Wine
Make Sangria Slushies
What's better than an icy cold drink on a hot day? Not much, and they're even better if you can make them in the comfort of your own kitchen. Haggstrom says that one of her favorite ways to use up any leftover rosé is to throw it in a blender with fruit like watermelon or strawberries, add some herbs like basil, mint, or rosemary, a bit of ice, and pulse for an icy sangria-like summer cocktail—or, as you may know it, frosé. (And in the winter, try making this red wine hot chocolate.)
Iced Wine Cubes
Icy cold rosé is synonymous with summer, but during some of those dog days it can be tough to enjoy cold wine without diluting it with ice cubes, leaving half of your glass of wine swimming with water. Instead, use your leftover rosé, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or even champagne to make wine ice cubes.
Haggstrom loves to pour any excess wine she has laying around into ice cube trays with a bit of water (to help it freeze) and some edible flowers for wine cubes that look cute and keep your drink chilly without watering it down. For best results, fill each ice tray about two-thirds of the way up with wine, and fill the remainder with water. (Related: How to Buy a Good Rosé Every Time)
Boozy desserts are a great way to beat the summer heat, and granita is one of the easiest desserts you can master. Granita is a traditional frozen Italian dessert that is quite similar to sorbet but is made by hand and can include a huge range of flavors—so its versatility lends itself perfectly to using up leftovers.
First, start with some leftover wine (red, white, or rosé will do for this one) and dilute it with a bit of tangy fruit juice (like pomegranate or cranberry). Diluting the wine with juice will help it to freeze better and will add some sweetness and fruit flavor to your dessert. For every 2 cups of wine, include about a cup of fruit juice. Feel free to add leftover crushed fruits, chopped herbs like basil or rosemary, and even some lime zest to kick up the flavors even more. Pour the wine, fruit juice, and any other flavorful additions you like into a shallow pan and pop it in the freezer. After an hour or so take it out, scrape it with a fork and voila! You've got a simple, delicate, and elegantly boozy dessert that will melt in your mouth. (Also consider making this Blueberries & Cream No-Churn Ice Cream when it's too hot to function.)