The 4 Best Ways to Use Leftover Wine (Yes, It’s a Thing)

Clever cooks find better ways to use leftover wine.

Bottles and glasses of wine

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

It happens to even the most ardent wine lover: leftover wine. It’s not just after parties when there’s a table of half-empty wine bottles; once in a while we end up with a wine that we just can’t drink. Unfortunately, this knowledge often comes only after we’ve opened the bottle, and can’t just pass it along to someone else. But what are you going to do—you obviously can’t just dump it. The internet is full of helpful suggestions for making your own vinegar, making a wine reduction sauce, or just freezing wine in an ice cube tray, but we can do better than that.

Make a Better Marinade

Tannins, acidity, and sugar are excellent at tenderizing meat. This is why we have carne vinha d’alhos, the centuries-old Portuguese dish of meat marinated in wine and garlic—the dish that spawned vindaloo and adobo. Now apply that principle to other proteins: use a white or orange wine for white meat; give fish an hour or two and poultry or pork 3-4 hours. Brine red meat for 4-6 hours in any leftover red. Just add your favorite aromatics to the marinade (shallot, thyme, and black pepper go with everything), then take a cue from coq au vin and braise away.

Make Sweetie Treaties

Lots of recipes that include a non-milky liquid can use up leftover wine instead. Try this orange glaze recipe on a buttermilk-vanilla bundt, but use a citrusy white wine and some lemon zest instead of orange juice. Add chopped fruit and wine to a popsicle mold and make boozy paletas. If you like gummies, try making wine pâtes de fruits rolled in sparkly cardamom sugar, or try your hand at beautiful crystalline kohakutou. If you’re more into hard candy, make wine lollipops (boil the wine until reduced by three-quarters and sub it for the water).

Jell It and Jam It for Later

Use cava or a too-dry pét-nat instead of water with gelatin for bubbly jell-o shooters. You can also jell wine with pectin—make (literal) grape jelly, sauv blanc jam with white raspberries or gooseberries, or try it with whole currants to make your own spin on bar le duc jelly. If you prefer preserves with a little more texture, poach kumquats in red wine and sugar until they’re tender to make sangria-flavored conserva, or preserve whole fruit in wine-sugar syrup to make Eastern European slatko.

Drink It Another Way

Think beyond red sangria when it comes to using wine for cocktails and punches—make a fruity white sangria with frozen honeydew melon cubes and berries instead of red wine and citrus. Fairy-up a Pimm’s cup by using white wine ice cubes with edible flowers frozen inside.  Or why not make vin d’orange—it’s pretty enough to bottle up and give as a hostess gift. You can even make muscat boba by cooking the tapioca pearls in wine instead of water—then add matcha and milk.