Perhaps you've had a dinner party or a trivia night recently that left you with a couple half-finished bottles of red wine. Or maybe you started a bottle over the weekend and decided you didn't really like its full-bodied bouquet or plummy-oaky-tannic-insert-adjective-here flavor profile. For whatever reason, you've got a mostly empty bottle of wine in your fridge or on your countertop and you don't want to drink it. It's okay! I don't blame you for not wanting to pour out perfectly good wine that you no longer have the taste for -- instead, here are five ways to put that leftover red wine to good use.
Make a rich tomato sauce.
There's a reason red wine features so prominently in Italian food, as it adds balance to the acidity of the tomatoes. Try caramelizing an onion in butter before adding in garlic, the red wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, some salt and a dash of dried basil. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the flavors have mellowed. Serve this with roasted eggplant or herbed chicken; add it to browned ground beef or sausage; or freeze it for later. Your future self will be grateful.
This is not a far cry from the "drinking category" that wine already belongs to, but the addition of a few stand-out ingredients can elevate a wine that is just ho-hum to something party-worthy. Combine an assortment of fruits - like oranges, cherries, berries, apples, plums - with a little honey, some rum, and your leftover red wine. Macerate the fruit in the liquid and allow it to marinate overnight in the fridge. Before serving, pour in equal parts sparkling water or champagne or lemon-lime soda, making the choice between the three depending on how sweet you want your drink or how drunk you want your guests. Regardless, the end result is stunning served from a big pitcher or in tall glasses.
Make a pan sauce for steak.
I would gladly give up a glass of beautiful wine if it meant a beautiful pan sauce in return. You'll begin by cooking your steaks in a pan on the stovetop, however you prefer to do this. Once you remove the steaks, keep the pan over high heat and deglaze with the wine: carefully pour a cup or so of wine into the hot pan and, with a spatula, stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the fond (all of the crispy-fatty-caramelized bits) from the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer - here you may stir in some butter, some seasonings, etc, and let the sauce reduce until it's silky and succulent. This doesn't take long. Bonus points if you cooked your steaks with garlic, as your red-wine pan sauce now has a tantalizing garlic tang. Take this a step further if you have ample time and a batch of homemade beef stock on hand, and turn your pan-sauce into a long-simmered demiglace.
Make an adults-only dessert topping.
There are some incredible red wines out there, many of which have a fruit - specifically, berry - undertones. How incredible would it be to take that berry-y wine and put it with actual berries? If you can get your hands on fresh strawberries, cherries or raspberries, empty a quart or so in a saucepan with your leftover wine. Macerate the fruit in the wine and, depending on the sweetness of the ingredients, you may want to add some honey here. Simmer it on low until the wine and fruit juices have reduced into a jammy sauce, and spoon this over homemade custard or a flourless chocolate cake. Whoa.
Make a roast, a batch of chili, or a stew.
Alcohol is an excellent tenderizer, and plays well with the savory flavors of red meat. If you have only a little wine leftover, add it to your roast, your game day chili, or a hearty stew. You can do this on the stovetop, in the slow-cooker, or in a Dutch oven braise, depending on what you're making - regardless of how you cook it, though, the wine will add rich complexity to these dishes.
If you're not a fan of reds, but you happen to have some white wine chillin' in the fridge all by its lonesome, please make some classic risotto or deglaze a pan of salmon or chicken with the stuff. You can also make a mean version of the sangria I outlined above with a white wine - simply swap out the darker fruits for some green grapes and citrus instead, and serve with aplomb.
Do you have any tricks to using up leftover wine? Is it ridiculous of me to even suggest that there might be wine that goes un-imbibed in the world? Let me know in the comments, particularly if you've ever tried freezing your wine in an ice cube tray. Cheers!