How to Make Good Use of Bad Wine
Old wine, old wine. Hmm . . . well, it’s not a problem I often come across, to be perfectly honest. We’re pretty fond of spiky beverages, round these parts. (Some of our neighbors here in Portland even send their plumbers home with a bottle of wine.)
But okay, I suppose it happens every now and again. A lonely bottle of Chardonnay gets pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. Or a post-party Merlot gets left open, left out, for far too long to consider salvageable. These things happen to even the most dedicated of drinkers.
Then of course, there’s just the tragic occasion when a bottle, brand new and freshly poured, simply . . . stinks. Much like electrical work, winemaking is an exact science. Sometimes things just don't come together.
Ah well. All’s not lost, my friends. As long as your wine isn’t growing fur or smelling like something long since dead, you still have options. Here are a few ideas:
1. Cook with It.
Contrary to popular belief (sorry Julia Child), it’s actually okay to cook with less-than-stellar wine. Blind taste tests have shown that as long as you’re boiling, braising, or otherwise reducing the liquid, the quality of the wine isn’t so important. So add it to a slow-simmered stew or a from-scratch pasta sauce. Try an on-it’s-way-to-vinegar white for cooking down onions or mushrooms. Don’t worry – no one will be any the wiser.
2. Bathe In It.
Yes, really! It’s called vinotherapy and it’s a great way to make use of a bottle you opened but didn’t care for. Celebrities like Teri Hatcher pour a glass of red wine into the bath each day. The treatment is purported to soften the skin, firm it up and add elasticity. The magic is apparently in the resveratrol, a compound found in wine that’s a powerful antioxidant. And whether a wine bath really works or not, it sure does sound like a way to get some "me time" in the bathroom!
3. Make Artisan Red Wine Vinegar.
Red wine vinegar comes in two main types: that stuff you buy at the store, and the stuff that’s really amazing. Want to get your hands on the amazing kind? Then make it yourself! It is a perfect project for wine that’s already started to sour. It’s actually very easy and man, the taste is just incomparable.
4. Use It As Dye.
We’ve all spent our fair share of time trying to remove red wine stains from tablecloths, so there’s no doubt the stuff has powerful staying power. This is a great project for a bottle that’s gone well past its prime, since there’s no ingesting or immersing involved. Wine-dyed fabrics have a lovely “crafty” quality, much the same as the popular tea-dyed look. Try it on linens or comfy cotton, Boho-style garments, and anything else that you want to endow with an earthy, natural vibe.
5. Don’t Forget Compost.
For the bottle that’s really, actually gone, don’t worry – you still won’t have to throw it away. Wine is completely compostable and can even act as a “starter” to give the bacteria in your heap a little “kickstart.”
Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx.
Updated January 25, 2018.