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Jan 7, 2011 12:49 PM

Can I still use an old, open bottle of wine for cooking?

Sadly, we just haven't been drinking as much wine now that we have a little one in the house. As a consequence I have a couple of open bottles of wine (both red and white) which have been sitting in the fridge for a few months (how sad!). I am wondering if I can still use them for cooking? Can I use them in recipes that call for wine or wine vinegar? I'm planning on making a pot roast this weekend and wanted to use some red wine. I don't want to open a new bottle since it won't all get used. If I use the old, opened bottle of red wine will it come out tasting funny? I don't want to ruin the roast since it is organic and grass fed (and therefore expensive).

If you don't advise using the wine with the pot roast, is there anything else I can use it for? Or should I just dump it so that it is no longer taking up room in my fridge?


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  1. Some people will say no, but I do it all the time. I usually buy screwtop because it seals better than twisting the cork back in, which might be an idea for you in the future. Again, some might disagree but I think it's a great technology. Otherwise, taste a bit of the wine and if it's not too acidic, use it!

    6 Replies
    1. re: limoen

      Thank you BOTH! I have a bottle of marsalla wie (used only for cooking) in the fridge for quite a while. I now may actually see if it is ok and not too acidic. THANK YOU BOTH!

      1. re: Prettypoodle

        For the future, you can by wine saver which helps keep the air out of the bottle and will help you wine last longer. Vacu-vin for example.

        1. re: AdamD

          Cool, thanks. I will look for one.

          1. re: AdamD

            +1 on this. Those vacuum deals work wonders, even the cheap ones. They're lifesavers when you want to open a few different bottles to pair with food throughout the evening.

            1. re: AdamD

              +2 on this. I have 4 bottles leftover from a party and the saved them for several days. Just last night, I used them to make a stew and it was fine. Enjoy!

          2. re: limoen

            There's a fascinating book I read a few years ago that deals with the whole screwtop-vs.-natural-vs.-synthetic debate: George M. Taber's To Cork or Not To Cork. I'm not a wine aficionado but I really enjoyed it, covers the whole history of corking wine.

            I cook with (and sometimes even drink, see aforementioned "not a wine aficionado") refrigerated wine, and have also frozen it in Ziplocs as mentioned below; of course, when the Ziplocs leak, my freezer looks like a crime scene, but let's pretend that adds to the fun.

          3. Taste it and you will know whether it is useable or not, remember - if you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't cook with it.

            2 Replies
              1. re: nsstampqueen

                bingo. that was julia child's advice.

              2. The simple answer is "Yes" you can use the wine for cooking when a recipe calls for wine.
                You should have little issues using months old, refrigerated wine.

                1. If I don't intend to finish up a bottle of wine, I pour it into a zip-lock bag, and freeze it. After defrosting, I wouldn't drink it, but it works perfectly for cooking purposes.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: critter101

                    Actually, Harvey Steiman, former (and still?) editor at Wine Spectator, recommends freezing even for drinking. Never tried it, but you're in good company. (Don't know his thoughts on the Ziploc).

                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                      Wow, next time I'll try drinking it before it goes into the boeuf bourguignon!

                    2. re: critter101

                      You can also pour it into an ice cube trays and then once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag and then you can take out the cubes as you need them and add them right to sauces, etc.

                    3. If you find it isn't to your liking, you can con't to store it till it turns to vinegar! Then use it for salad dressing or if it's still not to your liking use it to clean.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: heylids

                        Thanks for the tip! How long would you estimate that it takes it to turn into vinegar? And by that point, is all of the alcohol gone? (Perhaps this is an ignorant question, but I was never very good at chemistry!)

                        1. re: heylids

                          Oh, and can you really use red wine vinegar to clean? Or just white wine vinegar? I would guess it would stain, wouldn't it? I have only ever used plain old white distilled vinegar for cleaning.

                          1. re: laserkatie

                            I let my wine sit in the refrig. and once it's no longer useable I will let it con't to stay until it turns into vinegar,,,,,How long, I'm not sure. I can tell you that any European, ie Italians.. always have red wine vinegar on their salade and this is their own homemade wine that has turned. Some of these red wine vinegars are very conveted and are not given away willy nilly, a really good wine vinegar is important for salads especially since the standard is olive oil, wine vinegar and salt on ones salad.
                            As for cleaning, I use it for everything. Dishes, I use dish soap and always add vinegar. sometimes add both on a sponge and wash and rinse as usual. Greasy pots and pans more vinegar less soap,,,nice and quick.....walls, floors, laundry....pour a cup once a month thru your drains, great maintainance without harming pipes. We recently added a puppy (Yorkie) to our family and I have a spray bottle with water and vinegar, for those little accidences, first wipe up then spray and clean area. I know my Aunt use to wash her wooden floors and give the final rinse with some vinegar in the water.....Having said that I don't know if todays woods or any woods would benefit from this????? I use it on my cutting boards. LOL, we have a client who has a client who always gives them a bottle of so called homemade wine. Our client don't drink wine and always gives it to my husband....the first time we opened this homemade wine I was shocked to discover it had turned to vinegar. Much to my surprise year after year, this wine is consistantly the same....vinegar in my opinion....LOL, know each time my husband comes home with a bottle I pop it under the sink and use it for dishes or other messy jobs. Hope this helps.
                            Any other questions...let me know..

                          2. re: heylids

                            I keep two gallon jars of wine vinegar (red and white) going in my cupboard. Get an unpasteurized vinegar (like Braggs, just a small bottle) to start it. Put half of the vinegar in each jar and then start pouring in your leftover wine as it comes along. I started the jars with about a 2:1 wine to vinegar ratio (but you can use a higher ratio of wine:vinegar), now I just dump in the heels of the bottles. Cover the jars with doubled cheesecloth and a rubber band and sit the lids loosely on top. Put in a dark place and allow nature to have her way with them. A mother (looks like a nasty piece of jelly fish) will form and this is what makes the vinegar. It took mine about 3 weeks until I saw a mother and smelled vinegar. When the jars are 3/4 -full I pour off most of the vinegar, leaving about two cups and the mother behind, into a pot and bring the temp up to 145F for 30 minutes. This kills the active beasties that make the vinegar and will prevent a mother from forming in the decanted vinegar that you're using. Allow to cool and then pour through a cheesecloth lined funnel into bottles for storage. Leftover wine bottles are great for this. Cap, cork or otherwise plug the bottles and store away from light. I find that my home made vinegar is very strong and I water it down a little as I use it. I return the gallon jar with the mother to the cupboard and continue to add wine to it. If at any time your gallon vinegar jars start to smell like furniture polish it means something has gone wrong with the process and your should dump them and start over. I've been running my jars for 2 years and haven't had this happen. Yet.

                            I actually end up with more vinegar than I can use so I make fruit and herbal vinegars with it to give away as gifts. I search out cheap unique bottles at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift shops throughout the year, sterilize them, and pour in the finished vinegars. A dip of the top in sealing wax and a raffia tie makes them look great.

                            1. re: morwen

                              WOW, you really know what your doing.....I have never heard of heating the vinegar to ensure the elimination of bacteria. All our friends and family make wine and have only carefully transfered any vinegar and wine for that matter, from their gallons into sterilized bottles. We have never had any problems. I really enjoyed this knowledge you passed on. Thank you. Also, can you share some ways/.recipes for fruit and herbal vinegars and how long do they last? Great sharing!

                              1. re: heylids

                                The method I use is here:

                                I've found the vinegars are like some wines, they improve with age. I've been making my own for 2 years and have opened a 2 yr old bottle recently to find it had definitely improved so I know that it's good for that long. I've heard of but never tasted balsamic vinegars that are very old and extremely tasty and are prized for this so I'm assuming there's probably a long life span to vinegars.

                                1. re: morwen

                                  thanks morwen, great link! P.S. is this your blog?

                                  1. re: heylids

                                    I might have a little responsibility for it. ;-)