The Christmas period is all about excess, but what can you do with all those opened and unfinished bottles of wine? From homemade port truffles to eggs poached in red wine, Sarah Jane Evans MW advises on how to get the best out of your leftover wines.
What can you do with leftover wine? − Decanter’s expert guide
It’s important to stock up for the festive season of parties, dinners and of course − Christmas day. But after the deluge of family and friends has departed, you might be left wondering what to do with all that opened and unfinished wine…
Sarah Jane Evans MW is on hand with her leftover wine guide, so you can put those half-drunk bottles to good use.
Firstly, leftover red wine – the regular advice is to boil down wine and freeze the concentrate in ice cube trays to bring out in due course for sauces. If you have given up wine and (some) food for January, that’s sensible advice.
But if you are still eating and drinking then there’s no sauce or casserole that won’t be better for a slosh of leftover red.
For an easy win after complex Christmas cooking why not try Oeufs en Meurette – a delicious dish of eggs poached in red wine.
On the theme of poaching, then pears or prunes, or other fruits, are a great vehicle for good red.
If you must, make mulled wine. So many sins are committed in its name, but if you have a reliable recipe then go for it.
The same advice applies for white as it did for red: use it for sauces, poaching and marinades, usually for lighter meat and fish.
If you come across some prematurely oxidised Burgundy, fear not − take a tip from the menu at London’s Noble Rot restaurant, and make it the star ingredient in a white sauce for chicken or fish.
Fortified and sweet wine
Fortifieds are your friend. First, they last − All of the oxidative styles (excluding Manzanilla and Fino Sherry) can be stoppered well and stored in a cool place till you need them.
Then when you are doing a roast, lay the meat on a bed of root vegetables and anoint it with the wine, and some water if necessary to keep it moist.
Oloroso is great with lamb, but any blend of your left over fortifieds will do just as well. The gravy at the end will taste terrific.
When making chutneys and jams, perk them up with Port. When it’s time to make Marmalade – coming up in late January – that remaining Amontillado will come in useful. Amontillado marmalade is much more fun than the Whisky version. Or if there’s any left, botrytis sweeties like Sauternes, Barsac or Tokaji make for very refined marmalade.
I also recommend sweet wines for drizzling over the sponge cakes in a classic English trifle. Or serve it cool with biscuits for dipping.
It’s never too early too think about NEXT Christmas, in particular Christmas pudding. It’s not just wine that is left over: there’s usually an over supply of dried fruits in the larder. Soak the fruits in your remaining fortified, the richer, the better. Make the pudding(s) in January and the flavours will have time to mature properly.
Before the feasting is entirely over, use those drops of precious fortifieds for homemade chocolate truffles: fine dark chocolate melted into warm cream, with a little Madeira or Port stirred in and left to set.
Much of the same advice applies. Using Champagne or top sparkling in a recipe seems glamorous but is not a great showcase for the wine.
Delicate jellies are a possibility.
Final golden rule: if the wine is left over because no one liked it in the first place, don’t foist it on family or friends again.
Sarah Jane Evans MW is Co-Chairman of DWWA, and a former President of the Guild of Food Writers.
Edited by Laura Seal for Decanter.com