Genius Ways to Use Wine Besides Drinking It
We all know the best thing to do with wine is drink it. But, once that cherished liquid is gone, there are some worthy ways to upcycle those wine bottles. Here are a few genius ideas for using wine to cook, craft and decorate.
It’s a myth to think that you can use cheap wine for cooking just because you’re not drinking it. A poor-quality wine will decrease the quality of whatever food dish you’re trying to make. Instead, cook with the same high-quality wine you’d want to drink. We recommend trying these wine cooking suggestions with Naked (Wine, that is. But who are we to judge if you like to cook in the nude? It just seems safer to wear an apron.)
First, the basics—when you cook with wine, you’re evaporating some or all of the alcohol as the dish simmers and you’re left with the concentrated wine flavors. A sweet wine will be even sweeter, and a tannic or acidic wine will be stronger in those characteristics. This is why it’s important to pair your wine flavors with the flavor of your dish! As a general rule, red wines will play well in the pot with red meats, and white wines will enhance seafood and some veggies. Safe bets for cooking include middle-of-the-road wines like a Pinot Grigio (not too sweet, not too oaky) or a Merlot (not too tannic). Be creative, play around, and make sure some of the wine ends up in the recipe!
Ways to cook with wine:
- Bake—Simply sub out the liquid in the recipe for wine. Pot roast with a red wine is a classic, and the wine helps additionally break down the meat. A Pork Tenderloin baked with our Vixen Syrah will create a tempting dish bursting with flavor.
- Add wine to stews or gravy—That savory flavor will simply be enhanced with a bold or peppery red, like our Penetration Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Create a pan sauce—Add a bit of stock, butter, and a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc to a sauce pan and simmer down before serving over a white fish like tilapia. Combine a bright white like our Beach, Please Chardonnay with parsley, garlic, and mushrooms for a modified Alfredo sauce to pour over tortellini. Chicken cooked in a pan with garlic, paprika, and brown sugar will also go well drenched with our Climax Red Blend as it simmers!
- On the Barbie—Use a hearty red like our Oh! Orgasmic Tempranillo to baste chicken or steaks on the grill, or douse a kabob of asparagus and mushrooms with our Seductive Chardonnay!
- Marinade—Use wine in place of vinegar or lemon juice in any marinade recipe. Maybe soak up a little wine yourself while you’re waiting for your meat to tenderize and absorb that great flavor! Using our Oh! Orgasmic Sangiovese will make any wait worth your while.
- Poach pears with our Oh! Orgasmic Zinfandel for a dish endowed with spice you won’t forget.
The genius part of using wine bottles for crafts is that Step 1 is to empty the wine bottle! It’s up to you whether you drink while crafting, just be careful around the nail guns.
Self-Watering Plant Tool:
This is the easiest-level wine bottle craft around: all it requires is for you to empty the wine bottle (easy, right? ;)), fill it with water, and stick it into the dirt upside down in a plant pot or garden box. Violà! You have a slow-dispensing self-watering system. Some plants can be as thirsty for water as humans are for wine, so check the level of your wine bottle waterer from time to time and refill every few days or weeks as needed.
Wine Bottle Bird Feeder:
Similar to the self-watering plant tool, this wine bottle craft is a self-dispensing bird feeder. Get creative with the specifics of this one, but the three basic elements you’ll need are the empty wine bottle filled with bird feed, a basin for the bird feed to drop into, and a method to keep the wine bottle suspended upside down above the basin. We’d recommend using a simple piece of 2 x 4 wood for a backing to adhere to the tree / wall / fence where you’ll want to hang the feeder. The wine bottle can be secured to the front of this board by adding horizontal wood slots with appropriate pegs. Nail another piece of wood to the bottom of the board near the wine bottle neck—the bottle should hover just above this basin, allowing it to drop seeds when needed. After building, it’s a low-maintenance feeder that will make good use of that pretty wine bottle glass!
Cutting wine bottles in half may seem like a mad magician’s trick, but it’s actually easier than it looks. Soak a piece of yarn in nail polish remover, then tie it around the bottle where you’d like it to be cut. Light the piece of string with a lighter or match, let it burn all the way around the string for 10-15 seconds, then dip the bowl in ice water. You’ll have a perfect split! For this craft, you’re halfway done after halving the bottle. Take the top half of the bottle, turn it upside down, and set it into the opening of the bottom half. The neck of the wine bottle should point downward inside the bottom half of the bottle. You’ll fill the bottom half with a bit of water, the top half with dirt, and you’ve created a unique planter! Plants will thrive in the sunshine on top and their roots will happily reach through the neck of the wine bottle toward the water basin in the bottom half. Makes a unique centerpiece or desk décor.
Using the same method as above, cut half or just a few inches off the bottom of a wine bottle. String a chain through the length of the bottle and attach your windchime charms of choice to the bottom. They sound and look beautiful!
Decorative Bottle Stoppers:
We know. . . who among us puts the cork back into a wine bottle once it’s opened?! Should the need arise, however, you may as well have a cute stopper. Use extra corks (you wouldn’t happen to have any of those lying around, would you?) and install lightweight, decorative door knobs on one end by screwing them into the cork.
Ring Toss Game:
Paint and cork wine bottles, adhere numbers, and assemble them standing upright in a crate. Find some rings, then entertain your friends on the lawn with this homemade ring toss game! You can assign points based on colors, numbers, or a series, like tic-tac-toe.
Outdoor Evening Centerpiece:
To create a soft, twinkling centerpiece, purchase some battery-operated string lights and place them inside an empty wine bottle. Enjoy the glow from old bottles as you sip on future glasses of wine. It’s just a hunch, but the lighting may be even more appealing if you make this centerpiece from a Seductive Chardonnay bottle!
Wine Bottle Vases:
Remove the label from an empty wine bottle, spray paint the glass, then use the painted bottle as a vase. Metallic or textured spray paint is an easy way to level-up the look of this craft. Get extra creative by painting dates, initials, or seasonal images like a Jack-O-Lantern face on the bottles. Tip: filling an empty wine bottle with hot water will loosen the adhesive of the label and make for easier peeling.
Cork Bath Mat:
If you’re one of our true friends, it won’t seem like a stretch to have accumulated enough corks to make a bath mat. Cut corks in half, adhere to a square of rubber or matting, and create an eco-friendly mat to place outside your shower that will be the statement piece of the bathroom! Doubles as light reading if the toilet is located nearby.
What’s fancier than wine? Create a napkin ring for a formal place setting by looping copper wire from one end of the wine cork to the other, leaving a space big enough for a cloth napkin. Fortify this loop with a few more passes of wire, then twist a loop of wire strung with small, colorful beads.
DIY Cork Letters or State Maps:
First, cut the shape of the letters or state that you want to make from a sturdy piece of cardboard. (The letters N-A-K-E-D, perhaps?) Then, hot-glue corks standing vertical to fill in your shape. The end result will look like Hobby Lobby-style lettering, with a personal touch! (We assume you drank the wine!) Get creative by painting the ends of the wine corks before assembling. If you make a state, the corks are ready for map pins to mark all of your wine traveling adventures.
Naked Winery Team | Lisa Laughlin