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

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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. 

RELATED: If You're Storing Wine in the Fridge or Vodka in the Freezer, You Need to Read This

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-dying, there are many ways to make the most your favorite Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Gris.

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Leftover Red? Make Braised Brisket

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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.

Steamed Mussels With White Wine and Tarragon
Credit: Greg DuPree

White Wine Works Wonders on Seafood

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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. 

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin Recipe
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Wine Ice Cubes Offer an Endless Supply for Cooking

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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. 

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

Over the last few months, 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 4 hours (the longer it steeps, the deeper red it will be) and make sure to stir the mixture every 3 to 4 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.

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Make Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

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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.

This story originally appeared on realsimple.com