10 Tricks for Using Up Leftover Wine

From making jam to pan sauce, here’s how you can take extra wine and give it a new lease on life.

Pork Chops with Sherry Pan Sauce with Ras Al Hanout
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

At the end of a dinner party, a date night, or a night hanging out with friends, you might find yourself with one or two unfinished bottles of wine. At this point, you have two options: try to finish drinking it before it turns, or find a way to repurpose it. Route A certainly works just fine, but if you aren't up for drinking more, we've got options. A bottle of leftover wine is something that's full of possibilities, offering you an exciting chance to get creative in the kitchen. The last few glugs of rosé can be used in homemade jam, and extra red wine can star in everything from a chocolate snack cake to a dreamy pan sauce for lamb chops. We've included those tips and more of our favorite tips for cooking with leftover wine below, whether you're in the mood for dessert, poached seafood, or still want to drink your wine—albeit, in a different format. Read on for all 10 tips, grab your bottle, and get cooking.

DIY Your Own Red Wine Vinegar

Various bottled vinegars
Getty Images

In our April issue, cookbook author and Food & Wine Cooks contributor Andrea Slonecker shared her recipe for DIY Red Wine Vinegar. All you need is some full-bodied dry red wine—like a Gamay, a Syrah, or even a blend of several leftover reds—some raw apple cider vinegar, a glass jar, cheesecloth, and a rubber band. After about eight weeks, you'll have vinegar. Don't forget to strain it before storing and using.

Turn it into Dressing and Spin it into a Salad

Basic Vinaigrette
© John Kernick

Your homemade red wine vinegar can be used in this recipe for a Basic Vinaigrette from chef Hugh Acheson, which also calls for a clove of garlic, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil. He suggests several variations; play around with ingredients to make Miso Vinaigrette, French-Style Vinaigrette, or even Dill Pickle Vinaigrette. If you don't have red wine vinegar, use your leftover red wine directly in this Red Wine "Vinaigrette" from Patricia Wells. It calls for half a cup of leftover red wine, combined with fine sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil for an easy dressing. No red wine? Swap in white, rosé, or a combination of wines as well.

Mix it into Another Drink

Inverno Arancione
Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

If you didn't love the wine on its own, use it as the base for another cocktail. You can make yourself a glass of Kalimotxo, a Spanish cocktail that combines cola and red wine, or a warming mug of mulled wine when the weather is chilly (we even have a version that uses Pinot Grigio!). Extra amontillado sherry can lend a sweet note to this frozen Stop the Hourglass cocktail, and if you have extra dry rosé, save it for this pretty sangria. Whether you have red or white, sparkling or non-sparkling, a lot of wine or just a little bit, you've got options.

Whip Up Some Jam

Rose jam
Caitlin Bensel

Jam on its own? Delicious. Jam with wine in it? Even more delicious. A cup of rosé can be transformed into this summer-ready Peach-Rosé Jam, and this Blueberry-Beaujolais Jam makes use of an entire bottle of Beaujolais, should you have an unopened one leftover. Once your wine jam is done, use it as a topping on a dish like ricotta toast, spread it on a sandwich (like these Ham-Jam Sandwiches), or serve it with a cheese and charcuterie board.

Bake a Cake…

Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Wine and cake can be wonderful paired together, so it's a natural progression to take wine and use it in your cake as well. Take our Culinary Director-at-Large Justin Chapple's recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Snack Cake, which gets a boost from the fruity notes from a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon. Or writer Nicole A. Taylor's gorgeous Moscato Pound Cake with Grape Glaze, featuring Moscato d'Asti, which appears in both the cake itself as well as the glaze. An entire bottle of Prosecco is used to make this Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb — in the batter itself and to poach the rhubarb placed on top.

…Or Treat Yourself to Some Wine Gummies

Kumquat Riesling Gummies
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Dry riesling is one of the starring ingredients in these Kumquat-Riesling Gummies, which glow a deep orange color and have a tart note thanks to a coating of citric acid. You'll only need 3/4 cup, or six ounces of Riesling to make a batch. (We particularly like Kung Fu Girl Riesling for this.) Dry Riesling can also be combined with dried apricots, sugar, and unflavored gelatin to make Riesling Pâte de Fruit. And if you have Champagne? While not strictly gummies, per se, these Champagne Jellies are a fun way to transform two bottles of rosé Champagne into an elegant dessert treat fit for a celebration.

Poach Pears, Seafood, and More

Pears poached in red wine with whipped cream
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Wine can also be used for poaching ingredients, like in this striking dessert of Pears Poached in Red Wine (you can also poach pears in Muscat), and these Sancerre-Poached Scallops with Soft Grits—swap in Sauvignon Blanc in the latter recipe if you don't have Sancerre. Ruby Port also plays a part in this stunning Goat Cheese Cake with Wine-Poached Cranberries, acting as the base of the poaching liquid for the cranberries. That poaching liquid is turned into a gelée that tops the cream-colored cake, creating a beautiful contrast, and the wine-poached cranberries decorate the perimeter of the gelée-topped cake.

Use it in Stew

Creamy Chicken Stew
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Wine adds depth of flavor to stews, as seen in this recipe for Red Wine Venison Stew from our Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle. You'll only need a cup and a half of a robust, full-bodied red wine to make it, like a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. (As it happens, we also recommend pairing the finished stew with a Petite Sirah.) Leftover white wine can find a home in stew as well—use a cup of a dry white to make this Creamy Chicken Stew, which only takes 45 minutes from start to finish.

Make Pan Sauce, Y'all

Chicken Breasts with White Wine Pan Sauce with Crème Fraîche and Spring Herbs
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

An incredibly easy way to repurpose leftover wine is by making a pan sauce. Our April issue offers a few different ways to do this: using some dry white wine to make White Wine Pan Sauce with Crème Fraîche and Spring Herbs, which pairs beautifully with chicken breasts; turning a bold red wine (like a Bordeaux or Rioja) into a Red Wine Pan Sauce with Cumin and Chiles for lamb loin chops; or taking a dry sherry like oloroso and making a pan sauce to serve with pork chops. Steak and pan sauce are a match made in heaven, too, so you'll definitely want to add this Steak Au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce to your meal rotation.

Freeze it for Later

Pouring wine in ice cube tray on a wooden table

If you want to cook with your wine but won't have time in the near future, there's a solution for that, too. As our brilliant former colleague Margaret Eby explains, you can absolutely freeze leftover wine. This doesn't work for sparkling wine, but for reds, whites, or other wines you may have on hand, you can freeze them and defrost as needed. Just grab an ice cube tray, (or deli containers for bigger portions) and pour in your wine. "Leave an inch or so at the top to allow for the wine to expand in the freezer," Eby notes. Be sure to cover the tray or container so the wine doesn't pick up the flavors of other ingredients. If you make wine ice cubes, you can also stash them in a plastic bag à la Nigella Lawson, from whom Eby says she learned the method.

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