5 Ways to Make Bad Wine Better

Bad wine. There’s so much good wine in the world that bad wine seems such an exceptional tragedy. But as we have all experienced at parties, receptions and your BFF’s ultra-cool gallery opening, bad wine does exist. Maybe there’s even a bottle or two of it in your kitchen that an unfortunate soul brought to your recent dinner party, with nothing but the purest of intentions (bless their heart).

But alas, this wine makes your left eye twitch just a little and it burns on the way down. Not cool. However, now you’re left with the regrettable task of dealing with this unpalatable bottle. It is booze, and it is in your house, so the idea of throwing it out is heartbreaking. Time to get creative. Use those brain cells! Or, just read below.


1. Wine Spritzer

Don’t laugh! Wine spritzers are delicious and the best part is, they’re easy. Granted, this works best with white wine (or rosé!) and sunshine, but we have to make accommodations for the suddenness of this leftover bad wine you have. Here’s what you need: about 3/4 of a glass of wine and the rest club soda. Serve over ice, with a wedge of lime, mint leaves or, if you have your fancy pants on, a dash of an artisanal aperitif like the amazing Imbue Petal & Thorn.

2. Mulled Wine

Now we’re talking warm wintery goodness, and also a good use for that leftover red. Any recipe for mulled wine you come across (like maybe this one) has a basic theme of fall flavors in a pot with some wine. So don’t get too nervous about having any exact ingredients on hand. Take your bottle of wine, dump in a large pot and add any combination of the following: apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, a rind or two of an orange, whole cloves, star anise, a splash of brandy or port, a bit of honey (if not using cider to act as a sweetener). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes while you enjoy the smell wafting about your house. Perhaps pretend to be Betty Draper for a few minutes. Then enjoy your beverage while warm. Money.

3. Put a Penny in it

No, really. Now, this is a very specific situation we’re talking about here. If you have a bottle of red wine that smells remarkably like rotten eggs, onions, matches or skunks, swishing a penny around in the glass is an old winemaker’s trick for getting rid of this issue. These smells are called mercaptans, which is a five dollar word for issues. Natural byproducts of fermentation can get a little stuck in the wine’s aromatics. Many times they will go away on their own, but the copper in the penny will neutralize it. Make sure you’re using a penny that’s older than 1982, and give it a whirl.

4. A Kalimotxo

Call-ee-MO-cho. Sometimes it’s best to rely on pure simplicity, that which will never fail you. A Kalimotxo is a Spanish Basque country classic: red wine and cola, about a 50-50 ratio. Some claim adding a squeeze of lemon will brighten the overall palate of this no-frills beverage. Serve it over ice and put away your preconceived notions of what you think it might taste like. This could be the biggest pleasant surprise you’ve ever encountered. Side note: we suspect that this combination of hair-of-the-dog, carbonation and sugar may be a secret hangover cure. Let us know what you come up with.

5. Cook with it

If all else fails, save this not so great wine for cooking before you toss it. It will have endless uses: sautéed mushrooms & onions? Wine. A jar of spaghetti sauce? Wine. A turkey or chicken brine? Wine. Steak sauce? Wine. Are you sensing a pattern? Just don’t give up on that bottle. It will prove its use to you.

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