You pop the cork on that 1999 Bordeaux you’ve been saving for a special occasion, only to find that it’s gone so tart and vinegary, even the most ardent wino wouldn’t touch it. Don’t pour it out! You can use it for something else.
Try these unusual uses for spoiled or leftover wine, and learn a few enticing reasons to knock back a glass of the good stuff at least once a day.
1. Fabric dye
If you’ve ever spilled red wine on fabric, you know how well the color holds on to just about any type of material. You can use virtually any type of red wine to dye fabric as long as you’re open to experimentation when it comes to the result, which could range from pale pink to deep mauve or even gray. Heat the wine to simmering in a big soup pot on the stove top, add your fabric, stir with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Rinse the fabric well.
2. Skin softener
All of those antioxidants that make red wine a healthy beverage may also provide benefits when applied directly to the skin. Some women recommend using red wine as a toner, which may help smooth and refine skin thanks to the acidity which is similar to that of vinegar. Actress Teri Hatcher reportedly pours a glass of red wine into her bath water, and in India, wine has many beauty uses, like softening and brightening the skin in spa facials.
3. Clean fruits and vegetables
Just like baking soda, wine can be used as a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner. The alcohol in the wine dissolves impurities on the surface, and according to a 2005 study by Mark Daeschel of Oregon State University, components in wine kill several types of foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.
4. Glass cleaner
Spoiled white wine is on its way to being vinegar, so naturally it works like a charm on dirty glass. Add a few tablespoons to a spray bottle of water, apply to windows and mirrors and wipe with a newspaper.
5. Fruit fly trap
Few things are more tempting to pesky fruit flies than an aromatic glass of red wine. Use this attraction to your advantage and soon these unwanted guests will disappear from your kitchen. Just pour a half-inch of red wine into a glass and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Then, poke a few small holes in the wrap, which will let the flies in, but won’t allow them to exit.
6. Heal bruises
An old folk remedy recommends soaking a piece of bread in wine and then applying it to a bruise to help it heal faster. Does it really work? It’s hard to say, but there may be some science to support this theory. Wine is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have a number of beneficial effects on the body, including soothing inflamed tissue.
7. Meat marinade
Not only does red wine make steak extra-flavorful, it may reduce cancer-causing compounds naturally found in meats. Frying and grilling meat at high temperatures turns sugars and amino acids of muscle tissue into carcinogenic compounds, but marinating steak in red wine for at least six hours before cooking can reduce two types of carcinogens by up to 90 percent. Use about a cup of red wine, a cup of olive oil and the seasonings of your choice like garlic, parsley and peppercorns.
8. Remove grease stains
Pour leftover white wine onto grease and oil stains on garage floors and driveways, and the alcohol and acidity will help them dissipate.
9. Relieve dyspepsia
While wine itself can be the culprit of heartburn in some people, it can actually cure it in others. At least, that’s according to old European folk wisdom, which advocates drinking a glass of light white wine, which has low alcohol content. Some types of white wines contain added sodium bicarbonate – otherwise known as baking soda, a proven heartburn remedy – to temper acidity, so that might explain it.
10. Turn it into vinegar
If all else fails, you can always let nature take its course and turn that leftover wine into vinegar. Just leave an opened, 3/4 full bottle of wine out for a few weeks and it will transform on its own. You can also make vinegar from wine in larger quantities by pouring a quart of wine and a cup of vinegar into a sterilized wide-mouthed glass jug, capping it off but opening it for 30 minutes per day. It’s ready when the thick, jelly-like ‘mother’ sinks to the bottom. Just keep adding more wine as you use it.