First things first, who has leftover wine?!
Okay, okay. So you fell asleep binge watching that new show on Netflix without finishing your bottle. The cork didn’t make it back in either? UGH. Don’t worry. We are here for you, with five good things to do with that leftover wine!
There are a thousand different ingredients that can be combined to make a good sangria. You can use any wine from two buck chuck, to $300 Bordeaux red wines, but we suggest using inexpensive, or leftover wine! Making Sangria is essentially the process of enhancing the three main flavor components of wine - alcohol, acidity, and fruit notes. Due to this, using a high end wine would be a waste! Start by adding almost any fresh fruit to your leftover wine base, like strawberries, oranges, raspberries, and blackberries. The wine will mix with the fruit, extracting both the natural sugar and acid. To balance our liquid equation, we now need to increase the alcohol content so it isn’t too sweet.
I recommend using Triple sec, as it is an inexpensive, orange flavored liqueur often used in margaritas or mixed vodka cocktails. Brandy is another classic option as well, as it is literally liquor made from a wine grapes. To complete the sangria, make sure to seal the mixture from oxygen and store it in a cold place for a few hours! Throw in some ice cubes, and taste test all the way through the process, to find your perfect level of fruit tones and sweetness.
For hundreds of years, Wine has traditionally been used in recipes all over the world. It can be reduced in a pan to create glazes for rare meats, or incorporated in Italian sauces to balance acidity and add sweetness or spice. It may even be the missing link to your favorite chicken marinade. It is important to note that the alcohol mostly evaporates while cooking, so leftover wine truly is used to add depth, enhance flavor, and accentuate subtle notes from other ingredients. Experiment with sauteeing chicken in a dry chardonnay, combined with garlic, butter, and your choice herbs (rosemary and thyme for me). The longer the leftover wine has been open, the more the fruit tones will come forward. Once wine completely dies, it essentially becomes a form of vinegar.
Making vinegar is a great way to use leftover wine! There are two basic wine recipes to make red wine vinegar, but here is the easiest! First, start with whatever leftover wine you have left and place contents within a wide-mouthed jar. Wines that are higher in alcohol tend to inhibit more bacteria; that’s why it’s imperative that the wine is diluted with water. Leave the contents in a dark place and seal the lid. Let it sit for 2 weeks - 2 months, so that a mother can slowly form. This is the bacteria required to change wine/cider into vinegar. It appears as a thin film or jelly. Mothers can also be purchased to speed up the process, as you continually can add wine to make more vinegar once the mother is present. Taste as you go, and bottle the liquid when the taste is right, to have your homemade vinegar!
Most people don’t know that leftover wine can be used as an excellent jelly base. Simply add water, lemon juice, pectin, and your choice fruit to the leftover wine in a sealed container for one of the most delicious jam to wine recipes. If you have a heavy or dry red, you can always add some sugar to sweeten it up. The ideal type of leftover wine for a jam base is typically 1 to 2 days old, as it hasn’t spoiled completely. The wine has also softened up a bit, mellowing out the acidity and tannin dryness. Try to match the fruit tones present in the wine with the fruit you add for your jam!
It is not uncommon to find wine cubes on Pinterest or other recipe websites; chances are you’ve probably seen this idea already. Just pour your leftover wine into an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer. These cubes can be used for all recipes that call for wine. Simply pop a few cubes into your pan and delight your tastebuds the next time you cook. Use the leftover wine cubes to chill your sangria this summer.