Ever receive a truly undrinkable wine as a gift? Maybe you’ve even been a culprit of regifting those bad wines (no judgement here). But if you’re truly stuck, writer Tommy Werner from Epicurious has some ideas.
What do to with Bad Wine:
You receive a bottle of wine as a gift during the holidays. After cracking it open, one taste says it all: this gifted wine is just awful, and no amount of holding your nose can change that. At the same time, you can’t just regift it or throw it out—nobody in their right mind “wastes wine,” no matter how “bad” it is.
I went to the pros at Union Square Hospitality Group to solve this problem: Chef Eric Korsh of North End Grill, Chef Howard Kalachnikoff of Gramercy Tavern, and Sam Lipp, general manager at Union Square Cafe. They’ve all had brushes with bad wine and had plenty of suggestions for putting those bottles to good use.
A note on etiquette before we start: “I’d thank my guest regardless of how crappy the wine is,” says Kalachnikoff. After all, “some recipes exist because somebody didn’t want to waste wine.”
Chardonnay can pick up lovely buttery, vanilla notes when it ages in an oak barrel. But this is a slippery slope—holding the wine too long in oak can impart some “off” flavors, sawdust being one of them.
If you can’t drink that chardonnay without thinking of a lumber yard, look to the punch bowl. Both chefs Korsh and Kalachnikoff make a sangria using chardonnay. Korsh adds saké, plus lots of colorful fruit like kiwis, strawberries, and pineapple.
The bad bottle: Tannic Cabernet Sauvignon
Know that dry feeling in your gums when you drink red wine? Those are the tannins, which help give wine structure and an ability to age. When a wine is too tannic, it can taste like a mouthful of cotton balls. If you don’t want to use the wine in a braise like you would with a zinfandel, you can transform a cabernet sauvignon into a vermouth by infusing it with some seasonal spices.
Simmer the wine with fall spices like cloves and cinnamon, then add a neutral grain spirit like Everclear. Strain, transfer to a bottle and keep refrigerated. You can now use this aromatized wine in place of vermouth in cocktail recipes. And if your guests ask why you cocktails are so good? Take a cue from Lipp: “You don’t necessarily have to let your guests know where this vermouth came from.”
Check out more ways to deal with bad wines.
Our staff has picked the best of the best wines. Check out our favorite wines and bring a bottle to your next holiday party!
2012 Buena Vista Chardonnay Carneros 90 Point Rating Wine Enthusiast The Carneros Chardonnay excites with opening aromas of white blossom and lemon citrus that accentuate enticing notes of mango and vanilla cream. On the palate, this classic Carneros Chardonnay offers stone fruit and citrus flavors that are wrapped in layers of pineapple and honey. Offering a generous mouthfeel and great complexity, the 2011 Carneros Chardonnay culminates in a long, delicious finish.
2012 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 90 Point Rating Wine Advocate This Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir opens with lovely, vibrant aromas of cherry pie and sassafras, supported by subtle earth tones and hints of rose petal and vanilla. Vibrant pomegranate and cranberry join in on the palate, with notes of black licorice, espresso bean, sweet pipe tobacco and cherry cola. With elegant structure, the juicy mid-palate leads to a lingering of sweet spice.
2012 Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Tralcetto 91 Point Rating James Suckling Intense ruby red color with violet nuances. Intense bouquet, characteristic of the primary grape aromas. It has a fruity component, full-bodied and robust, well-balanced with tannin and oak features.
2015 Bayten Sauvignon Blanc 90 Point Rating Wine Spectator This crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blanc displays classic aromas and flavors of green fig, gooseberry and lime. Pepper and herbal notes are supported by elegant hints of mineral and chalk.
2012 Turnbull Cabernet Sauvignon 93 Point Rating Robert Parker 92 Point Rating Wine Enthusiast Forward style. Intense nose of cocoa powder, cassis, coffee and a bit of menthol. Full bodied, smooth, fine-grained tannins. Leather and a smokiness on the palate with lots of ripe fruit – but not as much as the nose would suggest. Acid balance results in a clean refreshing finish.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you may be thinking of all the great food you’re going to get to eat. But if you’re anything like me, cooking may not be your strong suite. So instead of figuring out what temperature to cook a turkey or the proper way to make yams, focus on something more fun–wine!
Don’t get flustered with the hundreds of varietals there are, just stick to the basics. For your white wine choices, you can’t go wrong with a nice Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or a Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling goes great with foods that are sweet, salty and spicy. Pinot Grigio compliments goods that are rich and flavorful, while Sauvignon Blanc is better with foods that have a citrus-based flavor–which makes it a great choice for turkey and mashed potatoes.
Is your family torn on white wines? Not a problem. There are plenty of fantastic reds that pair excellently with all your Thanksgiving foods. Cabernet Sauvignon are very popular, but can be a little too tart and rich with tannins to go well with turkey. The best reds for dinner are Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Zinfandel is a nice full-bodied red that is best served with bitter, spicy and sweeter flavors. Syrah compliments stuffing and both dark and white meat turkey nicely. Pinot Noir is fan favorite for Thanksgiving. It’s one of those wines that pairs well with almost anything you serve at dinner, especially turkey and stuffing.
Now that you have an idea of what wine to get, now comes the next obstacle–how many bottles to buy. Say you have at least ten guests (that are of age to drink) and each person has at least two glasses, an average of 20 glasses, that means you need a minimum of five bottles of wine. If you’re not sure the wine habits of your guests, a good place to start is one bottle of wine per two guests, just to be on the safe side.
But wait you may be wondering how much of each wine you should get. A safe bet is an equal split of white and red. But if you’re unable to do that, reds are a good choice since they pair better with meats and anything sweet.
From our family at GetWineOnline.com to yours we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
With Halloween right around the corner, that can only mean one thing. Candy. For adults who want to enjoy the chocolate treats, here is a guide to how to pair that Snickers bar with the perfect wine.
Sweet White Wine:
Try table wines like
Dreams really do come true, Starbucks is in the works to begin selling wine, craft beer, and small plates of food at select locations.
The chain has submitted an application for liquor license at seveal hundred of locations. The company is optomistic by the end of the year to begin their new venture all across the country.
Read more about it here:
After the party ends, give that leftover wine a second chance.
Wine Enthusiast polled its editors and other wine pros on the best ways to preserve the last few glasses of your open bottle.
Re-cork It Right
The first rule of preserving your wine is to replace the cork correctly. While the “clean” side may seem easier to fit in the bottle, resist. The stained side has already been exposed to the wine, and it tasted fine. That “clean” side may not be so clean, and it can taint what you’re planning to drink in a day or two.
Use Half Bottles
Air flattens your wine, lessening flavors and aromas. To minimize air exposure, use a funnel to pour the remaining vino into a screw-cap half bottle. Even if there’s a little air at the top, it’s far less than in a regular bottle.
It’s amazing how often people will keep leftover wine on the counter after they’ve recorked it. You wouldn’t do that with food, so don’t with wine. The cool temp can’t stop exposed wine from breaking down, but it can slow the process significantly.
Don’t “Open” It
If popping high-end bottles is what you call Wednesday (or you’re itching to taste those gems in your cellar), it may be time for a Coravin. This device, which looks much like a Rabbit opener, pierces the cork with a needle and tops the bottle with argon gas. Pour what you want, remove the needle and the cork will seal naturally. Many restaurants use it to sell top-shelf wines by the glass. There are other wine preservation options, as well. $299, wineenthusiast.com
Look, there are roughly five glasses of wine in a regular 750-ml bottle. If you and yours have two glasses each and split that last glass—all while eating a decent-sized dinner—it’s not bad. In fact, according to recent studies, 1–3 glasses a day may improve your heart health.