Using things is always superior to wasting them, but squandering alcohol is an especially galling dissipation because alcohol is delicious and excellent. Most of the hard stuff has a long shelf life, but if you uncork a bottle of wine and forget to finish it off within a few days, it gets vinegary and bilious-tasting. Especially after a housewarming party or dinner shindig or any other occasion where a bunch of people show up at your house bearing fermented grape drinks, the potential volume of wine down the drain can amp up to tragic.
Have no fear, fellow worshippers of Dionysus’ debauched goblet! You can salvage old stanky wine* in a number of different beverage combinations that will impress and intoxicate guests without making them question why you didn’t just buy new wine:
Classic. Add some soft fruits, the more the better, to whatever’s left of your bottle or box. There’s no standard wine for sangria, though if you’re making a white wine version, it’s best with a zestier white (dry Riesling, Pinot Gris) over sweet. Pour in some brandy, some citric liquor, whatever you want: There are approx. 83498329483290 sangria recipes on the internet and I’m not gonna sit here and tell you which one to pick (that said, don’t pick one that involves gin, trust).
This is a very good option if you are too cold to leave your house to buy newer red wine. Put it in a pot, add in some water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemons/oranges… like sangria, there are a ton of different variations on mulled wine, and they’re all going to taste a lot better than choking down your straight-up stale Cabernet. In Moldova, they make mulled wine with pepper and honey, which sounds kind of gross to me but maybe you have been waiting your entire life to make a drink that involves a lot of pepper and today is your day.
Add some Coke
The quickest, cheapest way to revive some bad-vintage red wine is good old Coca-Cola (NEVER PEPSI, NECTAR OF DEVILS). It’s an incredibly fun thing to serve to wine snobs if you want to deeply upset them, but it tastes good. Lest you think I’m instructing you to make a gross, trashy wine cocktail, I promise this is something people actually drink in Spain, often in a tall glass with some lemon thrown in. The drink even has a Spanish name: Calimocho, which is considerably classier sounding than “wineCoke” which is what I was calling it until I researched for this article.
Cook it up, why not, you’re an adult!
This option, unfortunately, won’t get you on the express train to DrunkTown. It won’t even get you to the GDA (Greater Drunk Area). But it will give you a way to jazz up your cooked foodstuffs. If your wine is too old to drink, you can pour it into a recipe. Old rice wine? NEW stir-fry ingredient! Gewürztraminer sitting in the back of your fridge? Add it to a butter sauce for lobster or shrimp. Red wine is great for marinating steak, and you can draw out the life of your already-old wine by freezing it in an ice cube tray and using the cubes as a sauce base.
Make wine vinegar
This option takes more effort, but if you’re a DIY type, it could be a fun project? (I would never do this because I am both lazy and thoroughly disinterested in crafting, but live your truth.) To make your own wine vinegar, you’ll need vinegar bacteria, or Mycoderma aceti. You can get it by buying an unpasteurized vinegar, like Braggs. Stick three parts wine and one part vinegar in a container with a large mouth, cover it in cheesecloth, and then let it sit there and look gross for a few weeks/months until you drain it. At the end of your travails you will have wine vinegar, you crafty bastard.
* Obviously use your head with this. A bottle of wine sitting in your fridge for a week will usually be OK, but if you forgot about leftover Pinot Gris from a summer picnic in the picnic basket, that shit is toast and probably toxic. Especially do not attempt to resurrect a bottle of Merlot you pilfered from a Thanksgiving dinner by letting it ferment uncorked in your closet for a month before attempting to drink it on New Year’s Eve. If I have retained anything I learned in high school it is that truth.
Picture: kubina/ Flickr