Seven Creative Ways to Use Leftover Wine

Posted July 27, 2015

Stacy Brody


Daily wine deals emailed to your inbox.

I love trying new wine. After all, that’s why I’m in this industry. Because I’m always trying something new, I hardly ever finish a bottle. OK, maybe sometimes I do.  

Please do not ask me about those times.

Before we talk about “leftover” wine, let’s talk briefly about an easy fix for this problem. Buy half-bottles.

  1. When you buy a half-bottle, or a “split” in winespeak, you have half as much wine to drink. Just a friendly reminder.  

  2. Then, when you’re all done, you have an empty half-bottle. Wash it out. Save it. Next time you open a full bottle, you can pour the wine you don’t finish in that empty half bottle you remembered to save (you’re welcome).

  3. Note: Oxygen is your enemy. If you leave the wine in the full 750mL bottle, there is more air space, hence more oxygen. Put the wine in the half-bottle - less oxygen - and more time to enjoy your wine!

Now let’s say, like me, you don’t want to have the same wine two or three nights in a row. While trying the wine over time, after opening, is a valuable and worthwhile tasting exercise, I get bored. I eat Thai food one night and pasta the next. I don’t want the same bottle for both meals.

So, what do you do with all that leftover wine?

Make bread


My boyfriend was getting pretty tired of the accumulating open yet unfinished bottles. He came across this recipe and was like, hey, you need to make this.

The bottle situation was pretty bad, so I gave this bread a shot. The beauty about this recipe is that it’s not all that hard to make. There’s no kneading involved. Just mix the ingredients, let it rise for half an hour, then bake.  

I’ve made this bread with Chardonnay and a medium-bodied red blend. Both were delicious. This bread makes great crostini. Slice it, toast it, and serve it with appropriately paired cheese. You can always wash it down with a freshly opened bottle.

Make a sauce


I first encountered the delightful ease and deliciousness of wine sauces when making chicken piccata (I use seitan, but it’s the same idea). The sauce was simple to make, yet delicious. Recipes typically call for only a few ingredients: wine, flour and butter, as well as whatever spices or herbs you prefer, and lemon.

Note: Wine sauce recipes often use the term “deglaze” - simply, the use of a liquid, like wine, to capture the flavors in a pan used for cooking meat, vegetables, etc. Remove whatever it is you’re cooking and, with the stove still on, pour in the wine to pick up all those savory bits. Use butter and flour to thicken and add flavor. Reduce to desired thickness. Bon appetit!

Make a syrup...


All you need for this is wine, sugar, and time. Mix wine and sugar, or your preferred sweetener, in a pot. Cook over the stove, and allow to reduce to desired thickness.

Try adding fresh fruit purees, like blackberries with Merlot! I tried this combo with leftover wine from a family party. Perfect over everything from pancakes to ice cream.

I think white wine with peach would be lovely - let me know if you try it @WineLib_StacyB

...or jelly


Jelly may sound intimidating, the thought of canning daunting.

Don’t be so scared. In the fridge, wine jelly will last 2 months - even without processing for long-term storage. You need wine, lots of sugar, lemon juice, pectin, and a small bit of butter. When I made my most recent batch, I used a half a bottle of Zweigelt and half a bottle of Monastrell. The jelly set in 12 hours in the fridge and was ready to put on toast at breakfast the next morning. In the form of jelly, wine consumption is socially acceptable at breakfast, agree or disagree?

Wine jelly is a great accompaniment for Italian cheeses like Piave, Parmesan, Brenta, and Robiolo.

Bake with it


Haven’t you come across mouthwateringly delicious-looking food porn of red wine chocolate cake? It’s time to try out some recipes. Be sure to share your results.  

Have a fondue night


This works better for white wine than for red (how would that look in your fondue bowl?). Classic fondue cheeses include Emmenthaler, Gruyere, and Raclette.

Use it in place of vinegar


I asked Joe Salonia from Gourmino Swiss Cheeses what he does with leftover wine, besides fondue (see above). He had a number of deliciously intriguing ideas. His simplest and most versatile recommendation: reduce it to use in vinaigrettes or to add character to mustards.

Now you have no excuse for pouring innocent wine down the drain!

Stacy comes to Wine Library from the production side of the industry. After studying agriculture in college, she found herself working at a local winery and, at harvest season, snacking on as many Pinot Noir grapes as she could take before the winemaker noticed. She enjoys reading, hiking, and scoping out what's in season at the local farmers' markets.