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Apr 27, 2011 10:59 AM

Most efficient way to use wine? (aside from drinking it)

I've searched for the group's wisdom on this, but my search-skills are probably not up to the task...

Plenty of recipes call for wine as an ingredient, and I've heard plenty of "if you won't drink it, don't use it in your recipe" as an answer to the "quality" question, but though my wife and enjoy dishes that have wine as an ingredient, we aren't wine-drinkers. It seems terribly wasteful to open up a bottle of perfectly good wine, use half-a-cup for the recipe, then dump the rest (or refrigerate and keep my fingers crossed that I'll need it again in the next day or two). So:

1) Are there any good alternatives to opening up a new bottle every time? (I have a wine-saver gadget to help preserve it for, I'm assuming a few days at most..) Would box-wine be better for this application? Even using two-buck-chuck seems wasteful and expensive for the amount I'd be using.
2) For how long can I reasonably keep an open bottle?

Am I doing it all wrong? Yes, I realize that this has the potential to be a really stupid question...

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  1. I'm of the ilk that believes the "if you won't drink it, don't use it in your recipe" is a myth. However, I won't use Ripple or Boone's Farm in cooking, but I've had good results with $5 bottles of wines and wines I've found at TJ.

    2) For cooking, I keep open bottles in the fridge and bottles can easily last months. The alternative is to make your own wine vinegar, which is a fun science experiment.

    1) For savory recipes that call for a small amount of wine, I'd skip the wine for extra water/ stock; or use a fortified wine like vermouth.

    1. Three options that have all worked for me:

      1. I do find that opened bottles of wine last longer than you'd expect in the fridge, especially if you're just going to cook with it, but an even better method is to freeze it, either in ice cube trays or in larger containers if you find that you use wine in bigger quantities. 2. If you look around the liquor store, you will see little 4-packs of mini bottles of wine; I found these to be the perfect size for recipes and very convenient to have on hand, until I discovered: 3. Wine in a box. Because it is sealed from within, and therefore protected from exposure to the air, these last forever in the fridge. This is also a LOT cheaper per ounce than the 4-packs and even cheaper than bottles.

      These days I always keep a box of white wine in the fridge (I like Bota Box's Pinot Grigio) because I cook with white wine a lot more, and keep a 4-pack of red wine on hand for those few occasions I need them.

      1. Screwtop wine, kept in the fridge. Lasts for ages. I wouldn't drink it but it's fine for things like risotto etc. Otherwise freeze the remainder. It will freeze slushy, not hard, so is still easyish to measure out