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5 Ways to Use Leftover Wine

By Team Made In
Jan 14, 2021
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Tired of pouring that delicious vino down the drain after a night of indulgence? Here are five ways to make your wine go the extra mile.

It’s like holiday clockwork. You set up a fabulous bar, entertain guests with a long night of revelry, then wake up to do damage control. The appetizers are gone, the coffee’s kicked and only crumbs remain of your homemade cookies. But what’s always left? Wine.

White, red, blush, bubbly—whatever you served, it’s bound to linger. And not a full bottle you and your honey can sip the next evening. Instead, you’re left with a swig of cabernet here, a drop of merlot there. People never take the last glass, yet they always manage to open a fresh bottle!

As your hangover takes hold, you slowly pour the lovely liquid down the drain. Like Groundhog Day, the tradition repeats itself year, after year, after year, after year…until now.

Home: where it’s always wine o’clock

This holiday season, we’re embracing the spirit of leftovers with a riveting roundup of five ways you can use excess wine. Each tip is designed to save you time and money while serving a fun, practical, eco-friendly purpose. Whether you’re whipping up a cool seasonal cocktail or cleaning your favorite Made In like never before, it’s time to say goodbye to ‘waste’ and hello to wonderful wine.

Not yet convinced? We don’t give a sip. Let’s get started.

Make Mulled Wine

Sure, a glass of pinot or cab warms the body no matter the temperature outside. But there’s nothing more comforting than a mug of mulled wine. The classic beverage is served steaming hot and requires just a handful of ingredients found in most homes (and ambitious apartments!).

To make this tantalizing treat, you let red wine simmer on low heat over the stove with cider, honey, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, cloves and other invigorating ingredients of your liking. Just like a stew or soup, the liquid can linger and ‘marinate’ as long as you want, so use your trusty Stock Pot. Once all the aromatic flavors have mingled for about ten minutes, you’re ready to grab a ladle and serve.

Although the base of the drink is typically a bottle of red wine, you can always mix the ‘scraps’ from the night before as long as you stick with the same—or similar—varietals. The spicy cinnamon and energizing clove will overpower any ‘second-day’ taste an oenophile would otherwise notice.

Recommended recipe: Ina Garten’s Mulled Wine

Turn It Into Vinegar

Have you ever wondered how red wine vinegar is made? Well, the name says it all. And while you may think your zesty salad sidekick comes from some fancy factory, think again. In fact, today’s ‘farmer’s market’ revival has ushered in a newfound appreciation for all things pickled, canned, and of course—fermented.

Red wine vinegar requires two very simple ingredients: red wine and live ‘raw’ vinegar containing ‘the mother.’ The latter can be found online or in your local grocery, but make sure it is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized—basically untouched by human hands.

The process is really very simple as long as you have patience. After shaking wine in a jar to aerate, add water and raw vinegar, and cover tightly with cheesecloth and a rubber band. Once sitting in a dark place at room temperature for up to a month, fermentation is complete. Strain and bottle for up to a year!

NYT Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

Deglaze Your Dirty Pans

After cooking red meat, chicken or other proteins over the stove, you’re always left with those little brown pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan. You probably just scrape them off and scrub it down in the sink (just like you dumped your delicious wine!). We say, no more! Let’s step things up and ask the inevitable question: What would a top chef do?

In France, the ‘fond’—those little brown chunks—are revered for their delectable flavor and oh-so amazing ability to transform into gravy. With just a splash of white or red wine, you can clean your pan while creating a sensational sauce to accompany your dish.

Here’s how to do it. Once you’ve removed your main ingredient from the sauté pan, stockpot or other vessel, turn the heat up to high, and pour in your wine. Warning: proceed with caution when using alcohol. Always move the pan temporarily away from the heat to avoid a massive flaming fireball!

After the contents return to a boil, those browned dripping will release from the bottom and become one with the liquid. Simmer to achieve your ideal consistency and taste.

Easy instructions: The Reluctant Gourmet

Make a Merry Sauce

Head to any steakhouse and you’re bound to see a scrumptious red wine glaze or similar sauce on the menu. If your guests are returning the next day for a formal dinner, what better way to knock their socks off than to reuse their leftovers from the night before?

We recommend an elegant cut like filet mignon. Take just a cup of red wine and reduce in a small saucepan or sauté pan for roughly ten minutes. Turn off the heat, melt in two tablespoons of butter to thicken, and sprinkle in salt to taste. Pour over steak to take your tongue on a sleigh ride!

By the way, there are plenty of interesting variations on the classic technique. To start, stick with a refreshingly simple approach courtesy of ‘M.Diddy’ herself.

Recommended recipe: Martha Stewart’s Red Wine Sauce

Freeze It for Sangria

This one is a life changer. Instead of flipping your precious bottles over the sink late Christmas eve, fill up some ice cube trays with whatever is left. Anything goes, but one rule is key: keep the whites with the whites, and the reds with the reds.

When brunch rolls around on Christmas, treat the fam to a fantastic holiday sangria featuring your totally fantastic wine cubes! Of course, wine has a high alcohol content and will not freeze solid. Still, the wine will be formed enough to chill your sangria mixture as opposed to watering it down like the typical H2O.

HINT: Many chefs also keep a bag of these on hand for when they need a quick tablespoon of wine for creating sauces, basting chicken, braising beef, etc.

Recommended recipes: Real Housemom’s Holiday Sangria (red) and Cake ‘n Knife’s Christmas Sangria (white)

Oh the wonders of wine! Stay tuned to Made In for more amazing after-party tips and tricks.