3 clever uses for oxidised wine

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Oxidised wine? Don’t chuck it! Though it may smell like something you’d rather pour down the drain, there’s still use to be had from it.

Oxidation is a fault that occurs when a wine is contaminated by too much oxygen. It’s not just a winemaking fault: leave a bottle half-drunk for a week and you’ll be left with the same results.

So how can you spot it?

It’s easier in whites and rosés. Oxidised wines lose what I think of as their vibrancy: they taste flat, like old cooking sherry in the worst cases, and the colour looks dull.

Oxidation is less common in reds because the tannins help to preserve the wine to some extent. Detect it by it’s brownish hue and bitter flavour.

All is not lost

There have been a couple of occasions when I’ve opened some pretty spectacular, (and spectacularly expensive), bottles of wine to find that the flavour has checked out. In those circumstances, there’s no way I’m chucking it down the drain. I do one of these three things:


The adage ‘never cook with a bottle of wine you wouldn’t drink’ is fully ingrained in me – but there’s no way I’d use my treasured white Burgundies for a casserole.

But when one’s oxidised? Dry your tears: emulsified with a little butter and stock and some chopped soft herbs (chevill, dill, parsley, tarragon), you have the most sublime sauce for white fish or seafood. Even more indulgent: fry a jumble of wild mushrooms in butter, add the sauce and serve on toast.

Meat feast

Bottle of red that’s gone to the wall? It’s still good for marinating meat. The tannins in the wine haven’t gone anywhere – and it’s these that will soften the meat fibres to make it extra tender. Chuck in a few bashed whole spices and smashed garlic cloves and you’ve the makings of a feast.

Salad with a difference

I only encountered dried fruit salad for the first time last year – I don’t know how I went so long! Oxidised wine is fine for this, in the same way you’d use a dash of sherry, vermouth or similar in cooking to add some complexity of flavour. Just pick your fruits and macerate with woody herbs for up to a week. It’s brilliant over ice cream, muesli and everything in between.


The alcohol in wine means it doesn’t fully freeze – a fact which actually comes in handy. I tend to reduce the wine a little then freeze little pots of white and red, ready to spoon out as and when needed. A smidge of white in a risotto here, a cup of red in a spiced fruit sauce there: delicious.