Kitchen Confidence

What to Do with Leftover Wine

December 25, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: So you popped the cork on too many bottles this holiday season (who didn't?) -- here's what to do with all that wine when it's no longer good enough to drink. 

Cooking with Wine from Food52 

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It has become a minor obsession when I travel to ask home cooks how they use wine in the kitchen. Fortunately, my questions have mostly been answered in the form of a dish set in front of me. 

Pour an entire bottle of sparkling wine into the roasting pan for each chicken, was the somewhat boozy answer from the Champagne region of France. Add wine to risotto, was the similarly enthusiastic answer from the Prosecco region of northern Italy. Baste gamey meats with red wine, I heard there, too. Douse ice cream with a splash of grappa, I heard (and tasted) in Friuli. (Interested in those recipes? Just say the word in the comments section below!)

Yes. Yes. And, um, yes. Here are some more ways to make your wine do double duty.    

Baking with Wine

In the Montalcino hill town of Tuscany, I came across the opportunity to bake with wine. White wine, even, in an area that’s famous for its Brunello red wine. The recipe is called Taralli al Vino Blanco, or Tarallo with white wine, and it’s a type of cookie that traditionally comes from Puglia and other southern Italian regions. This is a recipe that embraces the light, aromatic characteristics of white wine.

Any leftovers from a bottle of good-quality wine would work in the recipe, though. These cookies have a distinctive oval shape, and recipes vary from sweet to savory. This version leans slightly sweet, and the cookies are especially good with a glass of Il Poggione Vin Santo after dinner. And for breakfast or a snack the next day! 

More: Looking for more ways to make dessert with wine? Try these cookies, this cake, or these pears

Braising with Wine

To braise is to simmer in a little bit of liquid. Do as the northern Italians do with any fatty meat, and add a small glass of Merlot-based grappa throughout the cooking time; try Nonino Il Merlot for a very distinct, very savory bolt of flavor. Or, braise in what you’re drinking for dinner that night.


Annalisa Franco, who operates Villa Barberina in the Prosecco hills of northern Italy, always has a bottle of her family's Nino Franco Prosecco close at hand. One of her favorite uses for it is in risotto that she makes at home. After the onions have browned, she adds water and simmers it down for 15 to 20 minutes. Then she adds the rice, followed by Prosecco and leaves it for five minutes to absorb. Only then does she add stock and continue with the cooking. Another tip? To keep it light, Annalisa uses milk to finish, instead of butter or cream.

More: How to make risotto, with wine, and without a recipe. 

Wine with Seafood and Shellfish

White wine goes with seafood -- like these Drunken Clams with Sausage -- so says the general rule of thumb. But there are plenty of opportunities to break that rule, too, like when the recipe involves hearty flavors like olives and capers. In situations like that, experiment with a versatile medium-bodied red wine such as Kim Crawford Pinot Noir from New Zealand's South Island. 

More: Your scallops want to be a little drunk too.

How do you cook or bake with wine? Let us know in the comments! 

Photos by James Ransom  

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • luvcookbooks
  • Ashley Marie
    Ashley Marie
  • Cathy Huyghe
    Cathy Huyghe
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
Cathy Huyghe

Written by: Cathy Huyghe

Best advice I've ever heard regarding wine? "Just drink the stuff."


luvcookbooks December 26, 2013
Oh my! Thanks, I have so much wine in my kitchen right now and was resigned to start drinking right after breakfast. I sadly often let wine go until it is unusable because I'm not sure what to do with it. I have two questions: do you know a recipe for an incredible Italian cookie made with grappa? I used to be able to buy it from time to time at Arte Around the Corner on the UWS but haven't seen it there in a long time. Second, would you consider an article about Madeira wine? I read about it in Jane Eyre and have always wanted to learn more.
I pour leftover wine into tomato sauce to go over pasta for a quick weeknight meal. The tomato sauce is bottled and I dress it up with sauteed onions, garlic, and whatever vegetable is around. If I have, I stir in wine and finish with ricotta. Serve with Parmesan. I know you are thinking why don't I take it the whole way and start with tomatoes ... it saves a little time.
Cathy H. December 26, 2013
Thanks very much, Meg! You're obviously on the right track when it comes to creative uses for ALL leftovers. Love your ideas for wine in tomato sauce and for an article about Madeira. Consider it officially on the to-do list for 2014! As for the Italian cookie recipe made with grappa, that's a good question. I've had grappa with dessert and alongside cookies, but so far as I know the grappa was not baked into the cookies. I've been impressed with Nonino grappa, and their website has a great selection of recipes including pairings ("combinations") of grappa with desserts such as baklava with pistachios and macadamia nuts. May be interesting for you? Please let us know!
Ashley M. December 25, 2013
Leftover wine? What is this thing you speak of? HAHA. This was definitely very interesting!
Kenzi W. December 31, 2013
Touché. :)