Saturday, April 7, 2012

Making the Best of a Bad Wine Choice – April 6, 2012

I find it difficult and boring to keep purchasing the same bottle of wine over and over again.  This usually leads to lots of fun new wine discoveries, but can often mean the purchase of something that just doesn’t fit your taste.  I find the easiest way to use a less than stellar wine is for cooking.  Red wine is great when making homemade spaghetti sauce and I use it in a fabulous Portuguese Chicken recipe I got from Bon Appetite.  You won’t believe how rich and yummy this is and it’s the perfect meal to make ahead and warm up for dinner.  But many other sauces use both red and white wines.  Do a web search and you’ll find lots of Italian, French and other recipes with wine. 

Another easy use for an open bottle of wine is Sangria.  There are two varieties (Spanish and Mexican).  The Spanish is the fruiter type which usually has fruit pieces floating in it.  But Mexico and many Caribbean countries created a lighter more refreshing version which is great for using a surplus of limes which these countries have in spades.  I made a Peach Sangria today for friends because it goes well with white, rose or sparkling wine.  There aren’t any good peaches yet, so I added white grapes and mango pieces.  The basic Spanish Sangria would have Brandy and Triple Sec instead of Peach Schnapps.  

Peach Sangria

1 bottle white, rose or sparkling wine
½ c. Peach Schnapps
Up to ½ c. sugar or Splenda) to taste
1 diced mango
2 cups white grapes (cut in half)
½ liter ginger ale (I used diet)

Pour wine and Schnapps in a pitcher and add fruit.  Sliced citrus fruit is traditional, but peaches, kiwi and berries are great.  Stir in sugar and chill.  Add Ginger Ale (or Club Soda or citrus soda if you prefer) right before serving.

In case you want to try the Mexican/Cuban/Island Sangria, here is the recipe:

Island Sangria

1 tsp. sugar
2 oz. lime juice
4 oz. soda water
2 oz. or to taste of white Rum
4 oz. red wine

Pour sugar in bottom of glass.  Add lime juice, rum and soda water with ice and mix to dissolve sugar.  Carefully pour wine on top of drink to create two colors.  Serve with straw to mix.

Now, if you have a little time on your hands and want to make something to share with friends, you can use your left over wine (or other liquors) to make jelly.  This is the basic wine jelly recipe.  If you wanted to make moonshine, rum or vodka jelly, you just replace some of the wine in the recipe with the liquor.  Surprisingly, wine jelly tastes pretty much like grape jelly.

Wine or Moonshine Jelly

3 ½ cups wine (can replace ½ c. or more with moonshine or other liquor)
½ c. fresh lemon juice
1 (2 oz.) package dry pectin
4 ½ c. white sugar

Add first three ingredients and boil in large saucepan, stirring frequently.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Return to boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and skim any foam.  Ladle into sterilized jars leaving ½ inch and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  This is especially good as an appetizer on cream cheese.

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