11 Genius, Waste-Free Ways to Use Leftover Wine (From Cooking to Tie-Dyeing Clothes)

Because pouring wine down the drain is the ultimate crime. 

A bottle of red wine next to a wine glass with a little red wine in it

Over the last few years, my husband and I have made a conscious effort to be less wasteful in our daily lives—and I'm not just talking about being more mindful about our weekly groceries. We're trying to be more conservative with the amount of water we use when showering, washing our face, and brushing our teeth. When it comes to buying new clothes, we try to make sure it's a purchase that we truly love or need, so we don't end up with something that sits in our closet with tags on it for months.

And while this is a very rare and an almost non-existent occurrence, we've also found alternative ways to use up leftover wine so it doesn't go to waste. Do you ever have those nights where you just want a glass or two of wine, but the thought of the bottle going to waste just crushes your soul? Sometimes the solution is to just say "yolo" and consume the entire thing while watching Clueless for the 78th time. But there's also moments when you know you should really reel it back and stick to just one glass.

First, start by reading our guide to properly preserving an open bottle of vino for as long as possible. If you still can't manage to finish it, not to worry—with the tricks below, you won't have to stress about wasting even one drop. From cooking to tie-dyeing, there are many ways to make the most your favorite Côtes du Rhône or pinot gris.

01 of 11

Take a Soak

woman soaking in bathtub
Getty Images

Red wine soaks were a trendy spa treatment several years ago, and perhaps with good reason. Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in red wine, has been scientifically proven to treat sun damage and the effects of aging. Additionally, other compounds in a glass of syrah or merlot, like tannins, can fight aging and inflammation. While you'd need to be in a nearly continuous red wine soak to see any significant results, adding a bit of booze to your next bath can't hurt! At the very least, your skin will feel especially smooth.

02 of 11

Clean Your Fruit

Close-up of tomatoes being rinsed
Washing hands, surfaces, and food is one of the easiest ways to prevent foodborne illnesses. “In some cases people know about the basics but they don’t always do them, and obviously these practices are well worth the time,” says Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education.Always wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. If you are outdoors without access to a sink, use antibacterial hand sanitizer as an alternative.Rinsing fruits and vegetables is as simple as running tap water over them, but without access to running water it can be difficult. Washing your food before packing it in your picnic basket will ensure that the food is clean–even if your camp site doesn’t have fresh water. Jean-Blaise Hall/Getty Images

In addition to leaving your skin silky smooth, resveratrol can kill bacteria that cause food-borne illness, like salmonella and E. coli. Rinse your fruit with water first, then run a little leftover red wine over it for some extra cleanliness. Pat it dry and enjoy!

03 of 11

Tackle Red Wine Stains

wine glasses seen from under the bar
Getty Images

The next time you spill some red wine on your carpet or an item of clothing, grab a bottle of white wine to help clean up the mess. Though this may seem counterintuitive, there are enzymes present in white wine that can actually lessen the damage caused by its darker counterpart. While white wine won't completely remove a red wine stain, it's a good place to start before you bust out the heavy duty stain removers.

RELATED: 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

04 of 11

Say Goodbye to Grease Stains

White wine strikes again! The next time you have a few sips of chardonnay left, use it to remove pesky grease stains in your garage or driveway. The acid and alcohol in the wine pull double duty on the grease, which should disappear shortly. If you've got some baking soda lying around, add some to the wine for even better grease-fighting results.

05 of 11

Trap Fruit Flies

Fruit flies on a lemon
Sasha Radosavljevic/Getty Images

If you've got a bottle of red wine that's gone bad, don't just pour it down the drain. Instead, use the booze to rid your kitchen of those annoying little fruit flies that love to hang around fresh produce. To lure the fruit flies away from your oranges and bananas, simply pour about a quarter cup of vinegar-y red wine into a glass, cover the top securely with plastic wrap, and poke a few small holes in the top. The flies will be attracted to the wine, but won't be able to escape from the glass thanks to the plastic wrap.

06 of 11

Help Fertilize Your Plants

How to Create a Shade Garden, foxgloves and ferns
Getty Images

Yes, you can use wine to give your plants a boost. If you've got any leftover red wine that isn't worth saving, go ahead and add about four teaspoons of the stuff to some water the next time you need to give your plants a drink. Believe it or not, the nitrogen in red wine will help your garden grow. Pro-tip: Steer clear of red wine that's already gone bad, as it may damage the roots of your plants.

07 of 11

Leftover Red? Make Braised Brisket


If you've never cooked with wine before, what are you waiting for? Some of the most deliciously decadent dishes call for a rich red wine, like the braised brisket pictured here. As a rule of thumb, remember that you should only cook with a wine you'd also want to drink (read: skip that dreadful "cooking wine" section in the grocery store). Instead, choose a bottle that pairs well with the food you're cooking—Chianti, for example, would be an excellent option for a rich bolognese. Harsh tannins and overly oaky wines can also overpower your dish. Instead, try a (lighter) leftover pinot, merlot, light cab, Côtes du Rhône, or Chianti when cooking.

RELATED: 12 Quick and Easy Family Dinner Recipes You Can Make in Under an Hour

08 of 11

White Wine Works Wonders on Seafood

Steamed Mussels With White Wine and Tarragon
Greg DuPree

The high acidity of white wine makes it a delicious ingredient for traditional seafood dishes like these steamed mussels and shrimp scampi that call for something a bit more crisp, fruity, and/or dry. When it comes to white, the same rules apply: A sauvignon blanc, white Bordeaux, or pinot grigio all fit the bill beautifully.

09 of 11

Wine Ice Cubes Offer an Endless Supply for Cooking

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

When cooking with wine, sometimes all you need is just a tablespoon or two. That's why freezing a few wine ice cubes is absolutely genius. Whether you're whipping up a Coq au Vin on a whim or a braising some chicken thighs, you'll always have a little wine on hand.

10 of 11

Make Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

Lemony Chopped Salad
Victor Protasio

Everything tastes better when it's made from scratch, including red wine vinegar. All you need to do is combine 3 parts red wine and 1 part vinegar in a mason jar and let it age for about a month in your pantry. Use your homemade creation in salad dressings and marinades, and feel good about not letting any of that wine go to waste.

11 of 11

Red Wine Is an All-Natural Way to Tie-Dye

Getty Images

Over the last few years, tie-dye has made quite the comeback, specifically colorful, cozy tie-dye sweatsuits. Most people are used to accidentally spilling red wine on their clothes, but did you know it works really well as a fabric dye? Here's how to do it:

  • Grab a white cotton garment and twist and tie it in place using rubber bands.
  • Pour leftover wine into a large pot and turn heat to medium. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
  • Slowly immerse your piece of clothing in the wine. Let it sit for at least four hours (the longer it steeps, the deeper red it will be) and make sure to stir the mixture every three to four hours.
  • Remove and ring out clothing and place on a clean baking sheet.
  • Place item in the oven at 170℉ for 20 to 30 minutes or until dry. Check on it every 10 minutes.
  • Once fully dry, hand wash item in warm water to release any loose dye, ahem, wine.
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles