What to do with Old Wine

There are lots of expressions involving old wine, one of the most common implying that nothing ages better than a fine wine. Well, that may be true for the finest wines that are kept well sealed and cared for with proper storage over the years. What we’re talking about here is old wines, those $10-$20 price range bottles that got pushed to the back of the cupboard for a year beyond when it was meant to be consumed. Or, maybe bottles that were opened and then re-corked but forgotten on the counter (red wine) or in the fridge (white wine) for longer than a few days. These opened bottles are not good to drink after a few days, but can be used for cooking for up to a week.

These old wines may now have an aroma similar to vinegar – a tell-tale sign that taking a big swig of the stuff is not a good idea! What’s a person to do with this type of old wine? Well, before dumping these wines out, consider the following option instead.

old wine

What to Do With Old Wine

Make Wine Sauce wth Expired Wine

Don’t head for the sink with a bottle of old wine… instead, head for the stove!
That’s right, these “expired” wines are still quite useful and good for something other than drinking. How about a nice red wine sauce to top that seared steak? If that sounds good, then believe it or not, the tastiest sauce will result from that now nasty wine! Doubters, please do try this at home.

The best wines to keep around for cooking purposes are fortified wines, like port or sherry wines. These wines can be used for three weeks beyond when they were opened. Another good option is boxed wines which, if they remain in their vacuum sealed bags, will remain good to use for six weeks if stored in the refrigerator. Tastes that are too tangy or off could carry over to the wine sauce, so stick to these date recommendations and the vinegary tasting wines when cooking.

The best use for old wine, especially bottles of opened red wine, is to make a pan wine sauce. The sauce will be far tastier than if cooking wine is used to make that same sauce. Why? Because cooking wine, meaning those bottles specifically labeled “cooking wine” and sold next to the vinegar on the grocery shelf, are basically just cheap wine mixed with salt for a preservative. Most any old drinking wine will at least match the flavor of this “special” cooking wine!

There’s also no need to open a fresh bottle of wine just to use in a sauce, as a sauce never uses an entire bottle of wine anyways… so then the problem of having old wine will simply perpetuate! Besides, theres no point in using a good bottle of wine since the alcohol cooks off and loses flavor in the process of cooking a sauce.

About one half of a cup of leftover wine will make a nice sauce for a romantic steak dinner for two. It’s easy to do too – the wine is boiled to eliminate any bacteria and then simmered to reduce into a nice thick sauce. Add a splash of fat (like butter) along with any other seasonings on hand (like fresh herbs) and create a velvety sauce that will elevate most any meat. A nice wine sauce can also compliment vegetables or some poached pears. Just google ‘wine sauce’ for an exact wine sauce recipe, or try this one if you’ve also got some leftover cranberry juice from Thanksgiving to use.

Please do not use any wine that may have been contaminated in some way over time. For instance, if the wine has a moldy or chemical odor it may have been contaminated with another substance.

What to Do With Old Wine

Additional Info

To find out how long wine lasts, see one of our wine page. The recommendations on our wine page are for drinking the wine, using it for cooking can extend the shelf life for several weeks if open and years if still sealed.

For alternate ways to keep open wine around for a longer period of time before going bad, see our ways to store leftover wine post.

To properly sear a nice steak to complement this wine sauce, see our post on searing steak.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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