Beer & Wine Wine

7 Great Uses for Wine That’s Gone Bad

pouring wine

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We’ve all been there—that bottle of open pinot left over after a party, the chardonnay you planned to finish but didn’t. An open bottle of wine lasts only a day or two, or maybe up to five in the fridge with a cork, before the flavor starts to change and become less vibrant—or, worse, takes on the vinegar-like smell that tells you it's been colonized by the same bacteria that ferment your kombucha.

Instead of pouring day-or-two-old wine slightly past its prime down the drain, check out these creative ways to make the most of an unfinished bottle. From stepping up your steak game to a guilt-free trick for sneaking wine into your breakfast, take note of these seven wonderful wine hacks.

  • Marinade

    Of all the uses for a red on its way to dead, the most common is as a marinade. This is a great way to add flavor to whatever you’re grilling. All you need is a bottle you’re no longer interested in drinking and a little creativity to make a meaty masterpiece.

    Try a savory red wine marinade for flank steak or, if chicken is on the menu, a clever white wine spin.

  • Fabric Dye

    Usually, getting red wine all over a table cloth is the problem, not the goal. Instead of running for the bottle of hydrogen peroxide the next time you have a spill, grab a large pot and set about transforming your tablecloth. (The method works on T-shirts and bedsheets, too.)

    Depending on the type and amount of fabric, as well as the desired hue, your cook times will vary drastically. You’ll need a good amount of red wine, a large pot and a stove.

  • Fruit Fly Trap

    If your wine is on its way to becoming vinegar, you won't want to drink it—but your kitchen pests might. Both humans and fruit flies like a full-bodied red. Unfortunately, your kitchen isn't big enough for the both of you. If these obnoxious little pests are getting to you, try this simple kitchen hack. Pour a little of the vinegary red into a glass, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes in the top. Like the roach motel, fruit flies will check in, but they won’t check out.

  • Vinegar

    This one is takes a bit more time, but anyone who has tried their hand at making their own vinegar will tell you how favorably it compares to its store-bought counterparts. For this project, you’ll need wine, a large container, a good “mother” and about two or three months.

    There’s an abundance of advice around the web, or if you prefer, take a walk over to your local home-brewing or health food store. Start with a recipe or experiment with different ways to use old wine to make vinegar.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • Jelly

    A wine jelly is a beautiful way to use nearly any type of expiring vino, and there’s even a spectrum of DIY options available for the curious jammer. For those looking for something a little less involved, behold the magic of pectin. It's helpful if you're trying to learn how to make wine jelly.

    If you’re looking to make your jelly completely from scratch, an overnight recipe is rewarding and delicious. Either way, you can now have wine with your morning toast guilt-free.

  • Red Wine Reduction

    In less time than it takes to watch an episode of "Top Chef," you can have a delicious red wine sauce for your steak. If you’re cooking without meat, try it over grilled tofu or mushrooms.

    If you’ve never made a red wine reduction, take heart: It’s a dead-simple recipe that pays dividends, turning your ribeye into a steakhouse-worthy entrée. Or you could make wine burgers with a reduction.

  • Disinfectant

    wine as cleaner

    Getty Images / Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm


    After researching the results of germs dropped into white wine at Oregon State, a food scientist noticed that the one-two punch of cell-wall-weakening booze and the acidity in the wine killed off the germs in less than the time of a decent dinner party. While many people use vinegar to clean, people are still more accustomed to their whites in spritzers rather than spray bottles. Scientists are still hammering out the details, but some day you may be able to make a nontoxic kitchen cleaner out of that bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.