Jack in the wine box
June 26, 2008 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I was recently persuaded by a good friend to buy a box of wine. It was a Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon, which I was assured I would enjoy. I just had my first glass last night, and unfortunately I found it to be a dud. So now I have this box (3 bottles?) of wine that is not terrible, but does not scream deliciousness to my tastebuds. What do I do?

Does anyone have any recipes that require large amounts of wine for cooking? Any experience making wine jelly?
posted by amelliferae to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Drink the wine. Bring your friend.
posted by parmanparman at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2008

posted by Stewriffic at 8:40 AM on June 26, 2008

Freeze it (in small tupperwares/icecube trays) and use for cooking?
posted by ceri richard at 8:41 AM on June 26, 2008

Sangria is good...the are a lot of recipes calling for poaching in wine.

The other thing is that boxed wine keeps for a decent amount of time so you have some leeway in having some friends over for a few glasses.
posted by mmascolino at 8:43 AM on June 26, 2008

Seconding Stewriffic, I've had some DELICIOUS white wine Sangria and I think the honey and brandy and fruit would help moderate the taste of the wine.

I wouldn't suggest cooking with it -- first, it's a huge quantity, and second, you don't like the way it tastes as-is.
posted by kate blank at 8:44 AM on June 26, 2008

Poach some pairs.

Drink it mixed; it's summer and cold, punch-y, sangria-y things are welcome.

For the rest, wine is easily frozen and it's always good to have decent red around for cooking. Freeze it in muffin tins or ice cube trays or some other smallish unit that will make it easy to defrost in smaller quantities. Use it in braises, to deglaze pans, etc.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:46 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Boeuf Bourguignonne.
Coq au vin.
That is all.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2008

-Pass it off to friends when you're invited over for dinners or parties.
-Leave it in the kitchen at your office with a note that says "Take me home!"
-If you freeze some of it in ice cube trays, as ceri richard suggested, you can pop a cube into a sauce if necessary. It will impart the proper flavor without forcing you to repeat the unpleasant experience of drinking it the first time.
-Send it to me!
posted by grateram at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2008

Just so we're all clear: Cab Sav is a red wine. HTH.
posted by ChasFile at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2008

Make it into mulled wine, Sangria or use it to make a really tasty ragu?
posted by gaby at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2008

Wine pasta (I think Bittman's cookbook has the recipe).

All those multitudes of French recipes that involve cooking meat in wine.
posted by Forktine at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2008

Put it in a cupboard, buy something you do like, then get out the dud wine next time you throw a party; someone is bound to like it.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2008

Pears! Pears! Pears! Not pairs. Arg.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:54 AM on June 26, 2008

You might try decanting a half-bottle's worth out of the box, letting it sit on the counter to air out a bit and then tasting it again. I tried that with a boxed cab and it took it from "well, it's OK" to "reasonably respectable table red." It's not going to turn into Silver Oak on your counter but it might help a lot.
posted by jamaro at 9:07 AM on June 26, 2008

Ditto airing it. Or, you know, drink a few glasses - the taste might grow on you.
posted by handee at 9:11 AM on June 26, 2008

Best answer: If airing doesn't help (and as a frequent consumer of cheap reds, I attest that it often does), do use it in cooking. But... since you find the wine's flavor objectionable, use it in recipes where some stronger flavor supercedes the wine.

Wine pasta, recommended above, might be delicious, or it might be a disaster; in the recipes I've seen, a bottle's worth of wine is reduced to flavor a pound of pasta, concentrating the flavor of the wine. Think about whether you really want to do that.

Knowing what you disliked about the wine would be useful. Was it too thin? Too tannic? Bland?

In the absence of further info: try treatments that rely on lots of powerful flavor: onion, garlic, strongly flavored meats. Sangria sounds great: it's sweet and fruity enough to mask the flavor, and no one expects you to make sangria with great wine, anyway.

I experiment with box wines all the time, and I often end up using the less satisfactory ones in chilis, tomato sauces, and the like. Because box wine will keep much longer than opened bottles, you needn't worry about freezing it in cubes.

In closing, I leave you with my recipe for onion-garlic jam. It's tangy, bright, complex, and sweet. Use it as a sandwich spread (OMG grilled cheese and onion jam nom nom nom), as an easy cocktail snack with soft cheese and crackers, as a chutney aside meat or fowl. A batch uses only a cup or so of wine for a jar, but it's easy to scale up: just chop more onions and use a bigger pot. I made a giant batch at Christmas time last year and gave away pretty little jars packed full of this garnet-colored jam. My family is clamoring for more.

And, come to think of it, I often serve a plate of onion jam, cream cheese, and crispy crackers along with a cheap little red wine. You might find your dud wine stands up better with different foods.
posted by Elsa at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2008 [5 favorites]

Also: Calimocho!

(No, really. It's good, and you're embarrassed that it's good, but the shame goes away the more you drink)
posted by Stewriffic at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree with all the Sangria comments. It's your only hope. (Or else keep it around and serve it at your next party after everyone's already had a few drinks.)
posted by Kloryne at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2008

Ditto airing it. Or, you know, drink a few glasses - the taste might grow on you.

Or. Buy an expensive bottle of wine you know you like. Drink that first, then, when your palate doesn't know any better and you have dulled your ability to give a crap, tap the box.
posted by notyou at 9:19 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Use it for cooking.
posted by Zambrano at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2008

I'm curious to what you ate with it? Sometimes eating the right food with a wine will work wonders. Try it with a good juicy steak. The website states that it is a medium to full bodied wine which usually doesn't stand alone very well.
posted by JJ86 at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2008

Is it bad or just not to your taste? If it's the latter, why not have a few friends over for dinner, see if any like it, and give it to them?

Otherwise, sangria or meat stews.
posted by junesix at 9:45 AM on June 26, 2008

Throw a party, serve it to your guests :)
posted by geeky at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2008

definitely sangria! sangria is actually better with mediocre wine.
posted by violetk at 10:25 AM on June 26, 2008

Maybe try watering down a glass. It can sometimes make a mediocre red wine palatable. Of course, drain pours are sometimes inevitable.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2008

Seconding Kalimotxo.
posted by rhizome at 10:44 AM on June 26, 2008

I've made wine braised pears with two buck chuck several times and it's a winner.
posted by Tacodog at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2008

Chill it (yes, I know it is a red wine). That is a tip I had from a wine expert. Put the box in your 'frig for a day or two and try it again, It works wonders with cheap red plonk. Ice cubes may work, but not as well as chilling the wine thoroughly.
Wine also goes wonderfully with mushroom dishes. Make a mushroom sauce, good with eggplant, nut-roast, and meat (if you must): saute a chopped onion and a clove of garlic, add about half a pound of chopped mushrooms and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Then add a glass of red wine, simmer together for 5 mins, then blend into a sauce. For a richer sauce, you can also add 2-3 tomatoes with the red wine.
posted by Susurration at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pour it in a couple mason jars and freeze it for cooking. Crappy wine is good for cooking, despite what people say. If you make, say, a steak, deglaze with a few slushy spoonfuls of the red wine, pull the pan off the heat, add a tablespoon of butter.

posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:58 AM on June 26, 2008

Also, seconding Susurration about chilling -- we drink cold red wine in the summer, although usually less full bodied reds. A couple ice cubes would help though. Maybe a slice of orange, too.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:04 PM on June 26, 2008

There are many great sauces that would be perfect, just simmer it down to a more concentrated state. Add flour butter, shallots, herbs to make a roux. Lot's of variations, brown sauces with chicken stock, etc. Freeze in small containers.
It's just an evil thing to cook with a very fine wine.

On preview, some others have the right idea.
posted by artdrectr at 12:05 PM on June 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions. It's not a terrible wine, a bit bland for my taste. I let it sit for an hour in the glass after my first few sips and drank the rest with dinner - grilled lamb skewers. I will try the chilling idea before I do anything else.

Sangria sounds like a great solution, as does the Calimocho. The onion-garlic jam also sounds like a winner.
posted by amelliferae at 12:32 PM on June 26, 2008

If you have patience or an organic store near you where you can buy a "mother", you can make vinegar with it.

Put it in pretty bottles with a ribbon around the neck and you are totally set for Christmas presents. Easy!
posted by GardenGal at 2:28 PM on June 26, 2008

The last time I wanted to get rid of a bunch of pears (and I always have red wine that has gone gnarly from sitting around forevss), I sliced them up and cooked them in a brew of red wine, some sugar, cinnamon sticks, dried ginger, nutmeg, vanilla extract, assorted dried fruits (cranberry, raisins (dark and light)). It was a fruit compote, I guess, but I got the recipe template by searching for poached pear in red wine recipes. It would have been awesome on vanilla ice cream, but all I had around was some leftover whipped cream, so we had it with that, which was also tasty.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:14 PM on June 26, 2008

For chilling, don't forget about the 'ol ice cubes. Drop one or two in the glass and it will not only chill it, but also water it down slightly. Only to be used with cheap wines. Good wines can be drunk warm without shuddering.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:51 AM on June 28, 2008

Response by poster: I never stated it was a 'fine wine.' Neither did anyone else in the thread.
posted by amelliferae at 7:17 AM on June 30, 2008

No worries, I likely had some wine in me when I replied, and likely missed some of the details. ;)
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:08 PM on July 6, 2008

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