How to Use Leftover Wine

January 19, 2011 View all articles in General

If you've ever had leftover wine at your house, it's likely you've left the corked bottle on the kitchen counter, forgotten about it until it got too old to drink, and then poured it down the sink. Unlike ports, sherries, and dessert wines that can last up to a year after being opened due to high sugar and alcohol content, table wines only remain drinkable for a week or even just a day after uncorking. That can add up to a lot of wasted wine, especially if you live in wine country like the Chasing Green team does.


Since it's unlikely you'll finish every bottle of wine you ever open, we have some recommendations for how you can put all that leftover wine to use; besides the best option, which is, of course, drinking it.


  • If the bottle has been open for less than two days, the wine is still perfect for poaching fruit. Especially fresh pears, if they're in season.
  • Recently opened wine can also be used to marinate strawberries. Just rinse and slice ripe berries into quarters, then put them in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Pour your leftover wine over the berries and refrigerate for several hours before serving on pancakes, flan, or vanilla ice cream.
  • Follow this recipe to turn your leftover wine into devilish mulled red wine syrup you can drizzle over chocolate desserts, citrus fruits, and duck, or fold into Greek-style yogurt.
  • Or just make mulled wine to keep you in a continual festive spirit from now until spring.
  • You can still drink wine that's been opened for one or two days if it's made into sangria. Just pour the leftover wine into a large pitcher, and then add fresh sliced fruit (such as apples, oranges, limes, pears, blackberries, or plums) and several spoonfuls of sugar. Some recipes also include a splash of lime juice and triple sec, or even a shot of brandy. After you've stirred the ingredients in the pitcher, chill it in the fridge for several hours and add an equal part of club soda just before serving.
  • Take a cooking tip from The Godfather and add “a little bit o' wine” to your spaghetti sauce. In fact, you can add red wine to any recipe that uses cooked tomatoes such as marinara, Bolognese sauce, lasagna sauce, tomato soup; the possibilities are endless.
  • You can also add a splash of leftover red wine to any recipe that uses cooked beef such as beef stew, beef bourguignon, beef borscht, etc.
  • Try making the classic French recipe, Coq au Vin: a stew made from chicken that's been marinated and tenderized in red wine.
  • If your leftover wine has been open for a week or more and is beginning to smell sour, make a great oil and vinegar salad dressing by substituting red wine for balsamic. A simple recipe is one part wine, two parts olive oil, with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • If you think you'll use your leftover wine for cooking at a later time, simply put it in a resealable plastic food storage bag and freeze it. The alcohol will keep it from freezing solid, so you can break off pieces of whatever size and throw them into the pan. You can just as easily use ice trays instead of storage bags.
  • Follow these instructions to make your own red wine vinegar for pickling, to deglaze pans, or in slow-cooking processes when the flavor will be diluted. High-quality red wine vinegar can be used in salad dressings, sauces, and desserts.


  • White wine is a great addition to recipes that call for seafood such as mussels, grilled fish, shrimp scampi, or bouillabaisse.
  • Recipes for cream sauces, béchamel, or beurre blanc can also be improved with a splash of leftover white wine.

To make sure you never have to pour out leftover wine, purchase plastic bottle stoppers, a spray preserver, or a vacuum pump to reduce oxidation and keep your wine drinkable longer.


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