On the off chance you didn't finish that bottle of wine, here's how you can spice up your next meal.

Heather Mayer Irvine
April 17, 2020
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Getty / Linda Raymond

The past few weeks have been a good time to kick back, catch up on your favorite show and dip into your wine cabinet for a glass or two. And while an occasional glass of red wine might provide health benefits due to its high antioxidant content, drinking too much isn't good for anyone—especially if you're drinking due to stress.

So if you've enjoyed a glass and you find yourself with leftover wine that's been sitting out for a few days, it doesn't have to go to waste. We talked to food experts about creative ways to finish off that bottle—here's what they had to say.

Flavor and Tenderize Your Meats

Using red wine to braise red meat is a popular cooking method, leaving your cut flavorful and tender. But you can spice up more than just beef with wine, says Frank Reig, former chef tournant for Gramercy Tavern, and founder and CEO of Revel.

He recommends marinating chicken in a light red wine, or using a half bottle of red wine for a Bolognese sauce or stew.

Because of wine's acidity, Reig says, "You can take something heavy [like stew] and make it lighter."

Try a New Spin on Stew

Yes, you can braise your stew meat in red wine, but you can also substitute red wine for Guinness (or other dark beers) in a traditional Irish stew, says Paul Kita, food and nutrition editor for Men's Health and author of A Man, A Pan, A Plan.

And wine, Reig adds, is a good way to fortify a stew of any kind.

Spice Up Your Risotto

White wine is perfect for a risotto, Reig says, thanks to its ability to lighten the heavy dish. He recommends using a half bottle of a dry white, like a sauvignon blanc. (You can also make our delicious red wine-based risotto.)

Reheat Your Pasta

Kita does not like to reheat food in a microwave. He points out that the microwave heats food unevenly and can make some foods, like pizza and pasta, gummy. Instead, he recommends warming leftovers, like pasta, in a cast-iron skillet. And when you do that, add a bit of leftover white wine.

"If you have an olive oil-based pasta, something like a linguine and clam sauce, put a glug of white wine into the pan, and simmer on medium heat," he says.

Cover the pan to steam and then lift the lid to cook off the alcohol.

"Be sure to reseason before your pasta hits the table," he adds. "The flavor of wine can mess with the salt because it's an acid."

Up Your Mushroom Game

When Kita has leftover dessert wines—a nice sherry or port—he turns to his mushrooms. Not white button mushrooms, he says, but good ones, like oyster, trumpet and morels (if you can find them).

Cook your mushrooms in butter until they're almost crispy and, about 30 seconds before they're done, add a tablespoon of sherry or port and "wildly stir" until the wine evaporates.

"[The wines] are magical to them," he says. "Mushrooms are so earthy. Dessert wines also have that earthiness but also sweetness, so they make mushrooms more like themselves."

Have some leftover red wine? Use it up in our Red Wine Braised Mushroom Sauce.

Create a Boozy Frozen Treat

As we head into the warmer months (with no sign of an ice cream truck), Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., owner of Street Smart Nutrition, has one of the most clever ways to use leftover red or rose wines: sangria frozen pops.

Harbstreet adds leftover wine, sangria mix and fruit (berries and cherries) into pop molds and freezes them for a boozy, refreshing summer dessert.

"It's a nice break from chocolate or baking," she says.

Looking for some other wine-infused sweet treats? Try our Raspberry-Prosecco Pops, Strawberry-Rosé Granita or Sangria Jello!

DIY Sauces, Marinades, Dressings

Our experts agree that leftover wine is the perfect ingredient for quick, DIY sauces, marinades and dressings. We love using it in both sweet and savory applications. Drizzle our White Wine Lemon-Caper Sauce on fish, tofu or pasta, or impress your partner with a special dessert for date night: our Grilled Peaches & Angel Food Cake with Red Wine Sauce.

Sauces

Kita likes to use red wine for a homemade tomato pasta sauce.

"Red wine is a great addition to a quick homemade tomato sauce because it's so complex and has an almost umami flavor, with a body similar to soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce," he says.

Kita hand-crushes canned San Marzano tomatoes, adds garlic, onion, olive oil, a glug of red wine and a bay leaf or sprig of basil. He lets everything simmer until the liquid is cooked off and he's left with a sauce.

"You could add meat and finish with cream," he says.

In an effort to really avoid waste and maximize flavor, Reig uses wine to make a sauce with the drippings of whatever meat or fish he's cooking.

For example, he says, after you've grilled a pork chop and you have the brown bits in the pan, add white wine, mustard, butter and lemon juice for a sauce you can pour over your meat.

"It's a perfect pan sauce," he says.

Marinades and Dressings

Red and white wines, Harbstreet says, are excellent ingredients for a homemade vinaigrette. She mixes together wine, olive oil, herbs and seasoning.

"It's a good substitute for bottled dressings or marinades, especially if you're trying to minimize trips to the grocery store," she says.