What am I supposed to do with that bottle?!?

It’s happened to all of us. Somehow or another you get stuck with a magnum of some super cheap wine that you have absolutely no interest in drinking. Maybe your great aunt bought it over as a housewarming gift, or someone who prefers quantity over quality thought because it had Carlo Rossi on the label it was a solid bottle of Italian red and brought it over to your last gathering. So now you have this giant bottle of swill just taking up space on your kitchen counter, and has been doing so for way too long. So what do you do with it? Here are a few ideas.
If it’s a red, try using it to make sangria. Really inexpensive wines tend to be very fruity or sweet. This is a perfect style of wine to use for sangria. Just grab some nice fresh fruit (orange, apple, blackberry, strawberry, etc), triple sec and brandy and mix it all together. If the wine isn’t sweet enough (not bloody likely) you may want to add some simple syrup.  Put it into a big pitcher and you have a party on your hands, and that annoying bottle out of your life for good.
During a trial and error experiment I came up with a great concoction using an inexpensive Pinot Grigio. I was at a party and it was a little early in the day to really start drinking but the hosts were serving magnums of PG and homemade lemonade. I decided to add a splash of the PG to a glass of lemonade…for a goof. The acidity cut right through the sweetness and made it quite refreshing. By the time I was on my third I realized a 50/50 mix was the perfect combination for flavor and texture while getting a little bit of a buzz on too. You could really do this with any light and crisp white wine, which is often what ends up in those cheap magnums.
Use it for cooking! There is a theory that cooking with bad wine will lead to a poorly prepared dish. I buy that to a degree, if it is a key ingredient in the recipe. But if you are cooking up a giant batch of marinara sauce, there is no reason not to use an inexpensive red wine to add some flavor and a hint of sweetness. Same goes for white wine when cooking white clam sauce or even stir fry. However be wary if you let it sit out and turn bad to use as vinegar. Turning wine to vinegar requires a secondary fermentation with a rather volatile bacteria that converts the rest of the alcohol. So while a turned wine can have a vinegar smell and taste, its not something you want to put on a salad. But if you are looking for a vinegar flavor to cook with though then go for it, as the heat from the pan will essentially burn off the rest of the alcohol anyway.
The last option is just to put it over a ton of ice and drink it anyway. I mean, at the end of the day it’s still booze right? ;) The moral of the story is that you don’t have to sit around looking at that nasty large bottle of wine that has been staring you down for the last few months. Open it up, put it to good use and move on to some of your better juice to enjoy with good food and good friends.
Cheers!
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3 thoughts on “What am I supposed to do with that bottle?!?

  1. Pingback: Wine News – Small Bites Sept. 18, 2012 « Découvertes de Vin

  2. Great article! Question. Why is it always Pinot Grigio? Must be some alien conspiracy or something. I did get a very forgettable PG drinker that ended up being the secret ingredient in the best doré sauce I ever made. Same exact recipe as all the others but with this particular wine was nothing short of stunning. Bought bottles to keep around and kept getting the same result. The local market stopped carrying it a few years ago and my sauce has never been the same since.

  3. Thanks! Not sure about why it’s always PG, maybe because winemakers assume that since it is a very neutral grape it is hard to mess it up… obviously not the case ;)

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