Food & Wine,Wine,Wine Writer

What to do With Great Left Over Wine?

Get your ice cube trays ready, boys and girls, and freeze your left over wine… I can’t take credit for this bit of genius. This is a tip that I came across while reading Elliot Essman’s Use Wine to Make Sense of The World.

As I read his suggestion, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is good enough for a separate story.” What Elliot suggests is taking great left over wines and freezing it. I don’t know about you, but I love to cook and this one really made sense to me.

Now, I wouldn’t do this with an everyday commodity wine, and that’s not what Elliot was suggesting. Let’s say you’ve got a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild open, and only a half cup of wine remains in that bottle. What if, instead of throwing it down the drain, you simply freeze it?

I can see all of the possible uses. Let’s begin with red wine. How about adding an ice cube or two into a hearty beef stew, a pot of baking beans, or a simmering pot roast. Imagine the enhanced flavors. Yes, you may be having wine with dinner, and you’ll be opening a bottle of wine to go with meal shortly, but why not leave that wine for you and your guests (if you’re also having company), and just use what’s in the freezer for your cooking purposes?

Now, off to white wines….

There are uses here, too. Staying with cooking, an ice cube or two of a great Oregon Pinot Gris or a delicious Soave Garganega would be excellent in a chicken soup for added flavor, or one that becomes part of a fish sauce.

Here’s one to get you wine geeks going… And I’ll probably have more than a few Europeans laughing at me… “Like, right, you think you just invented this?”

What about throwing an ice cube into a really warm glass of wine?

I’m not talking about a wonderfully hand crafted wine, here. I’m talking about an everyday wine that’s more of a commodity item… A good house wine. We’ve all got one, right? At the risk of sounding like a desperate alcoholic… I remember a day when I had worked my brains out, and I just wanted a cool glass of wine on a hot summer’s day. All I had was a warm(ish) unopened bottle of wine that was an everyday wine. That’s just what I wanted and needed… a glass of wine that was more about instant gratification than one to ruminate over. The thought of drinking that warm, white wine  just turned me off. But I really wanted a glass of wine to refresh my body, mind, and spirit; so, I did the unthinkable. Yup, I used an ice cube.

Okay, truth be told, I’ve done this more than once. And survived. The first time I did it, I felt like the wine police were going to come and arrest me straight away. But… nothing happened, except that I had a glass of wine that satisfied me, exactly as I wanted it to. Yes, it was a bit diluted by a teaspoon of water, and I found that to be negligible. It was a commodity wine with no handcrafting. I wasn’t looking for nuance, I was looking to quench my thirst and refresh my being. One ice cube does not make for a diminished experience; in fact, it was enhanced. It was just what I was looking for and needed at the time.

Now, imagine if that Pinot Gris or Garganega had been chilled with a same varietal cube? I’m thinking that it would have been even less sacrilegious and more refreshing.

I’m with Elliot… recycle, reuse, and enjoy. Life’s a beach, and then you visit one with a chilled glass of wine.


10 Responses to “What to do With Great Left Over Wine?”

  1. Ha ha! Loved the bit about the Europeans laughing at you for puting ice in your white wine! Well, I’m European and I often do just that – and for the same reasons as you! I also used to be worried in case the wine police showed up, but now… “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn!” as the woman said.
    (Btw, here in Spain we have a drink called “Tinto de verano” which is red wine (cheap) with lemonade and ice which is nice and refreshing and casual and cheerful to drink in summer!)

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Fabio… I LOVE it! Thanks for backing me up on this one… From Europe, no less.

  3. Emily says:

    When I started this article my first thought was “eww… watered down wine” but as I kept reading I loved your ideas. I couldn’t help myself I had to write about your ideas as well on what you could do with left over wine.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Emily, when I first saw a friend do this with a Pinot Gris, I though… How “beginner.” Then, one super hot day, my white wine wasn’t chilled at all, and I knew that it was going to be a bear to enjoy. I took my beginner friend’s lead (she made me look away when she dropped in that ice cube), and I’ve never looked back. A bit of moisture in a warm glass of white wine, or even a warm glass of red wine, can stand this kind of instant chilling and still deliver a delightful experience. Happy you enjoyed it so much!

  5. Wine cubes are also a great way to keep sangria chilled without the dilutive effect of regular ice cubes!

  6. Great ideas Jo and a fun post to read! Now if it just came with some tips to make more room in the freezer!

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Martin… Great idea.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    Gwendolyn, what if you took some of the frozen fruit in your freezer, along with some of the ice cubes, and mixed in more wine for a fruit cocktail? Who said all cocktails have to have hard liquor in them? Imagine an Oregon Pinot Gris, raspberry cocktail with a twist of lime… It could happen. (Just do use any frozen meat products… Sorry, the heat’s getting to me.)

  9. Roger Beery says:

    Leftover wine is a myth…. 😉

  10. Jo Diaz says:

    Good one, Roger.

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