One of the great tragedies of wine is that once opened, it doesn’t keep for long. So unless you have access to a Coravin wine system, which lets you pour a glass while keeping the wine preserved (and is pretty expensive), you’re left with two options: finishing the bottle for the sake of it, or keeping it “for tomorrow”, then potentially forgetting about it and ultimately pouring it down the sink.
But wine is surprisingly versatile and can be put to myriad uses beyond consumption from a glass, or indeed being sloshed into a sauce or stew. So next time you find yourself with leftovers, don’t feel like you have to finish it there and then – nor do you have to resign yourself to watching it swirl down the drain. Try these tips instead.
1. Ice cubes
Here’s one way you can preserve your wine for future use. Pour leftovers into an ice cube tray and once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container – they’ll be ready to go whenever needed. Add them to white wine for quick cooling without the dilution of regular ice, or save them for recipes that call for small volumes of wine – you won’t need to open a whole bottle just to cook (unless you want to, of course).
Yes, leftover wine will turn into vinegar if left to its own devices, but the finished result will be far from palatable. It is possible, however, to make a very enjoyable vinegar from leftover wine by following a simple recipe – a great addition to the condiment cupboard of budding chefs and gastro fans. Williams Sonoma has a great recipe that will take an afternoon to prepare and will yield delicious results in about three months.
3. Wine syrup
Have more of a sweet tooth? Use your leftover wine to make a tasty syrup that can be used on ice cream, fresh fruit, pancakes and whatever else your cravings command. You can even make it with individual flavourings, such as vanilla bean or fresh ginger. Kitchn has an easy three-step recipe that takes less than half an hour.
4. Grease remover
If you’ve got a bottle of leftover white that’s realistically passed the point of consumption in any shape or form, it can still be put to good use as a grease stain remover. Stir up a mixture of white wine and baking soda and apply to grubby patches on your garage floor, outdoor pathways or patio. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe away – good as new!
5. Compost booster
It turns out that plants like a glass of the good stuff as much as we do – in a different format, of course. Pouring red wine into your compost bin activates the good bacteria already present in the mixture, helping your plants and garden to grow. Just be sure to keep your compost bin’s moisture under control once you add the wine (you may need to add a few more dry ingredients, such as cardboard, to compensate for the added moisture).