Photo by Andria
I know that none of you ever leave a bottle of wine anything less than completely drained, but sometimes people make mistakes, and a bit of "extra" wine may oxidize. But even if you can't drink it, this now-vinegary, fermented grape juice doesn't need to be tossed.
When wine is exposed to oxygen, the bacteria within will convert the wine's sugars and alcohol to acetic acid — the acid that makes vinegar sour. This makes the wine kind of undrinkable, but it means you can use it in cooking just as you would use vinegar. Here are some of my favourite ways to use up any bonus, kinda sour vino:
- Tenderize meat: Wine is often used in marinades for its tenderizing properties and fruity flavour, and the extra acid in oxidized wine can help tenderize tougher cuts even faster. I like combining 1/4 cup of iffy wine with 1/2 cup olive oil, three cloves of minced garlic, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, two teaspoons of prepared horseradish, and one teaspoon of maple syrup. Let your meat hang out for at least a couple hours, then wipe it off with paper towels and cook it as usual.
- In a salad dressing: Using this formula of 60% oil, 30% acid (in this case our tangy wine), and 10% other flavours, whip up a little vinaigrette. Of course, keep in mind that there will be a bit of ethanol in you dressing, so maybe don't share it with the kiddos.
- Deglazing a pan: Any good pan sauce starts with a good deglazing, and there's no reason you can't use slightly-less-than-sippable wine for this task. You are, after all, going to be cooking it and adding a bunch of other flavorful ingredients, so a lot of the subtlety is going to be obscured anyway.
Also, if you feel the wine is a bit too tart for any of the above, you can always balance it out with a bit of plain ol' sugar. Sugar always helps.