How To: Save Wine for Cooking

Over the past year I have shied away from using wine in my cooking simply because I didn’t want to incorporate the cost into the meal. Well after last week’s Spinach Artichoke Pasta and Goulash, I don’t think I can ever make a white or red sauce without wine again. Just a little bit of wine goes a long way toward adding depth and flavor to sauces. The end result is not a “wine” flavor but rather an indescribable richness and tang.

I first heard about freezing wine during an interview with a wine expert on NPR years ago. The idea is certainly controversial and doesn’t sound appealing at first. Although I don’t think I’d freeze leftover wine in plastic bottles for later drinking, as the expert had suggested, I have no qualms about using frozen wine for cooking purposes.

Most methods I read about suggested filling an ice cube tray and then transferring the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or wrapping tightly with plastic. This method just seems like it would invite freezer burn or other miscellaneous flavors because of all of the air exposure. Plus, as some have mentioned, depending on the alcohol content the cubes may not fully freeze. So, I poured the liquid wine straight into plastic freezer bags. This way, only a small air bubble will remain in the top bag, greatly reducing air contact.

freeze wine

I froze my wine in 1/2 cup portions so I only need to thaw as much as needed when making sauces. Generally a sauce will need 1/2 cup to one full cup of wine.

bagging staion

Make sure to clearly label and date the bags before filling them… it’s really hard to write on a bag full of liquid. To help fill the bags without it spilling all over, place the bag inside of a wide mouthed cup or jar and fold the opening over top. Then just pour the wine in, lift it out of the cup, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal.

freeze wine

To keep the wine from leaking out the zipper top, just fold the bag over with all of the wine in the bottom half. The fold in the bag usually keeps the wine far from the other end where the zipper is. Occasionally you’ll find a bag that leaks but I have had great success with freezing liquids in zipper bags. And again, it is the most air tight way to freeze liquids which will help prevent freezer burn and other flavors from messing things up.

If you’ve had experience with freezing wine (good, bad or ugly) feel free to share them in the comments section!