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In a pickle: What to do with a bad bottle of wine

We’ve all opened a bottle of wine only to find we don’t like it. Here’s what you can do so it doesn’t go to waste!

Woman drinking bad wine

Every Friday evening, my husband and I try a new bottle of wine. He pretty much likes anything; me, not so much. I don’t like wine that’s too dry, too bitter tasting or too strong. Unfortunately for me, that eliminates a good number of varieties. Instead of letting my husband enjoy the whole bottle, I’ve found a few ways to enjoy it even if I’m not a fan of the taste, or worse yet, if it’s actually gone bad.

What makes a bottle of wine go bad?

It’s exposed to oxygen. Oxygen is wine’s worst enemy. Too much oxygen turns wine into vinegar — no thanks! If your open wine’s been left out for a few days, it’s most likely gone bad.

It’s contaminated by the cork. Corks can be contaminated, and if your bottle of wine happened to come in contact with one, you’ll know it. The smell will resemble dirty socks — and the taste, let’s not even go there.

Not sure if your wine is bad? Smell it. Bad wine almost always has a funky, foul odor to it. Also, look at the color. Red wine may appear brownish in color and white wine may appear foggy.

It’s stored in poor conditions. Wine should never be stored in too-hot conditions. If it’s exposed to heat, the wine will have a sweet, dessert-like flavor to it. Though not necessarily bad, it may not be the taste you’re going for. Wine should always be stored below 75 degrees F. If it was exposed to heat, you’ll notice the cork will be slightly pushed out of the unopened bottle.

What to do with a bad bottle of wine

Turn it into a wine cooler. If you don’t want to use it for anything other than drinking, make your own wine cooler. Add the wine to some blackberry-flavored soda or ginger ale and throw in some freshly sliced fruit for good measure.

Try this Spanish sangria, too >>

Make homemade wine vinegar. First, if the wine has a high alcohol content (greater than 12 percent), you’ll want to dilute it with a little water. Next, simply leave the opened bottle of wine in a warm place with plenty of sunshine. Wait a few weeks, and you’ll have fantastic wine vinegar.

Cook a fancy dinner. As long as the wine is being heated, and, therefore reducing the liquid, it’s perfectly OK to cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. Try this red wine chicken with mushrooms recipe or this shrimp and lobster in white wine sauce.

When should you dump it?

Not all wines can be saved or transformed into vinegar. If red wine is fizzy, and it’s not “sparkling” red wine that you purchased, you’re going to have to discard it. Most likely, it’s infected with bacteria and while it may not hurt you, it’s just not worth the risk. Another option is to take the bad bottle of wine back to the store where you purchased it for a refund or replacement.

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