Do you have a bottle of wine that doesn’t meet your expectation? In my case (pun intended), I have a dozen from my own vintage with high volatile acidity (VA). As you contemplate drinking or draining the wine, may I suggest you upcycle it! Here are a few of my tried and true tricks with upcycling sub-par wine:
1. Cook With It
You hear celebrity chefs telling you to only cook with wine that you will drink. That makes sense if you enjoy drinking the same wine as you are cooking. Personally I keep my cooking wine and drinking wine separated. In fact, I almost always cook with wine that I don’t want to drink. In my experience, cooking with a sub-par wine does not detract from the dish. I'm convinced that no one can tell the difference.
|Bolognese by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash
The trick is to add it to dishes where wine is used to enhance the flavor but is not the star of the show. Some of my favorites are bolognese, Coq au Vin, and braised briskets/short ribs/fill in the blank meat. I would not, however, use it to make wine poached pears.
2. Whip Up Some Sangria
Originated from Spain and Portugal, sangria is a cocktail of wine and chopped or sliced fruit, oftentimes topped with a liquor. Sangria is especially popular in the summer as it takes advantage of the fruit in season. The flavors of sangria vary widely, ranging from dry to sweet and depending on the fruit of choice. But you can always count on it to be refreshing.
|Sangria by Frank Zhang on Unsplash
Sangria can be made with red wine or white wine; the latter is known as Sangria Blanca. In either version, load a flask up with citrus fruit (oranges and lemons), stone fruit (peaches and nectarines), or even berries, apples or pineapples. Pour a bottle of your favorite sub-par wine in and add some liquor. Most people use brandy. I have used Grand Marnier, rum, fruit schnapps or even port. Sweeten it with sugar or syrup to your taste. Top the flask with ice, stir, and refrigerate for a couple of hours for the flavors to meld together before serving.
3. Mull Some Glühwein
As fall turns into winter, nothing warms the body and the soul like a comforting mug of Glühwein or German mulled wine. In fact, I have just made a couple batches of Glühwein for Halloween. Mulled wine is made by steeping spices in a blend of wine, oranges, and sugar over very low heat so as not to burn the alcohol away. Mulling spices may consist of cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, mace, or allspice. They are highly aromatic, comforting, and warm.
|Glühwein by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash