Leftover Wine Bottles on the Counter? Recycle; Reduce!
Joe is usually the family cook, and he’s constantly complaining about our “galley” type kitchen. Since we never planned to have it as our “permanent residence” we continue to rent until we build or find our “dream house.” But a few days ago I decided to make Wunsche Brothers Sausage and Sauerkraut Balls* and Beer-Battered Onion rings, which take a bit of room to prepare. And there was not enough space on the counter.
Making a Simple Wine Reduction
Why? Because we’d accumulated a number of bottles half-filled with wine that we either didn’t drink because we didn’t care for them, or we had wine left over from a Taste Live! event where there were too many wines to consume in one evening (yes, sometimes that happens!) So, what do you do with all that wine? Make a wine reduction! It’s pretty simple but takes a bit of time and attention, but you can make a wine reduction!
All you need is a stove top, a good heavy saucepan and wine! We use All-Clad. Turn the heat on low, pour the wine into the pan. As water evaporates from the wine and the volume reduces, add more wine! The more reduction, the more highly concentrated the flavor. And your kitchen fills with a lovely scent of deep red wine. Some people like to add stock to the wine reduction at the end and allow it to reduce as well. Joe uses beef stock for reds, and chicken stock for white.
Once you’ve got your reduction you can put it into and airtight bottle in the refrigerator and use it to add later to make fabulous sauces. Don’t leave it on the counter though, because if your bottle hasn’t been sterilized or air gets into it, it can allow all sorts of funky things to grow in the bottle.
Now what kind of wine should you reduce? Well I’m glad you asked, because we have a post Joe wrote a while back that deals with that subject:
The conventional wisdom is that you should always cook with wine that you would drink. I think that is complete nonsense. The aforementioned conventional wisdom probably sprang from the days when folks would buy bottles labeled cooking wine. I don’t even know if they sell such a thing anymore. I typically have a few open bottles of wine on my counter that I use when I cook, and no way would I consider pouring a glass from any of them. If there starts to get to be too many I combine them by color, with little or no regard to the style or grape. If they really start to accumulate I cook them down into a reduction and save them that way. Where do these bottles come from? If I open a bottle that I won’t drink, whether due to a flaw or a matter of taste, it becomes cooking wine. – Cooking With Wine
The reduction I’m making today is all Cabernet Sauvignon, but it doesn’t have to be all the same. If you find bottles are taking over all the counterspace in your kitchen — don’t pour them out — Recycle! Reduce!
* Recipe for Sausage Sauerkraut Balls can be found by clicking the link!