7 Wine Hacks You Need To Know
There are times in life when things just don’t go as planned. Unfortunately for some, that can involve the moment you’re about to enjoy a bottle of wine. Here are seven useful wine hacks to get you out of a tight spot should you find yourself vinously compromised.
WINE HACK 1: CHILLING A BOTTLE OF WINE SUPER QUICKLY
When the occasion calls for a refreshing glass of vino, but you don’t have the time it takes for the fridge to do its thing, here are some options.
ICE ICE BABY
It hardly needs saying, but popping a bottle of wine into a wine bucket or cooler with some ice and cold water should do the trick. If it’s really hot weather, you’ll need to top up the ice.
If your wine is not chilling down quickly enough in its water bath, simply add some salt (to the water, of course). In theory, salt reduces water’s freezing point and makes the solution colder without turning to ice.
GIVE IT A SPIN
Gently spinning the bottle in its water/ice bath every few minutes will keep the wine in the bottle moving, thus bringing it into contact with the cold glass, and cooling it quicker.
A general warning, this is for still wines only – try this with a bottle of Sparkling and you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when you release the cork.
WET IT DOWN
Putting wine in the freezer will chill it relatively quickly, but to speed up the process, wet a clean dish towel and wrap it around the wine bottle before you pop it in. The dampness conducts and holds in cold better, and having the icy cold towel pressed against the bottle ensures that the entire surface of the bottle is being chilled.
WINE HACK 2: SMART ICE CUBES
To avoid ending up with a watered-down version of your favourite white wine, instead of using ice cubes to cool it, try these tricks.
For a quick way to chill an individual glass of wine, try some chill balls. Kept in your home freezer, these nifty little gadgets will cool your wine without watering it down.
An edible version of chill balls, frozen grapes will do the trick to keep your wine cool and you’ll also have a healthy snack on hand.
WINE HACK 3: STORING OPEN WINE BOTTLES
If you’re like us and love good wine, there’s little chance of a bottle lasting long enough to risk losing its drinkability. If you do find yourself with an opened bottle or two at the end of an evening, these pointers will help make the most of those delectable drops before they’re spoiled.
Once popped, Champagne, Prosecco, Sparkling Whites and Sparkling Reds quickly lose their carbonation or fizz. Use a Sparkling wine stopper and store it in the fridge for no more than two days.
WHITE WINES AND ROSÉ
When sealed with a screw cap, cork or stopper and stored in the fridge white wines and Rosé should remain fresh for up to a week.
When sealed and stored in a cool, dark place or a fridge, red wines can last for around two days. As a general rule, red wines with higher tannin and acidity tend to last longer once opened.
Thanks to the addition of brandy during the blending process, vintage fortified wines, Tawny, Muscat and Topaque can stay fresh for a considerable 28 days once opened. Like full-bodied reds, ensure the bottle is sealed tight with the screw cap or original cork and store the wine in a cool, dark cellar or cupboard.
WINE HACK 4: A CRUMBLED OR BROKEN CORK
These days most wines are under screw cap rather than cork, but what happens if you open a wine and the cork crumbles into the bottle or breaks and is stuck?
If cork breaks and disintegrates into your wine bottle, strain it into a decanter using a coffee filter, muslin cloth or sieve, depending on how small the pieces are. Allow the wine to sit. If any cork remains, strain it again while pouring it into your glass.
If a cork snaps off and you’re left with half in the bottle, gently try to remove it with a two-pronged wine opener. If you don’t have one, simply push the remaining cork into the bottle, then strain any particles out as necessary.
WINE HACK 5: WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS
It’s a little hard to believe, but there are some occasions when wine is leftover – not enough to put the cap back on and save for later, but too much to waste. So, here are some tips on how to make good use of it.
FROZEN WINE CUBES
If you have some left over white wine, pour it in an ice tray and freeze. The cubes come in handy to pop into sparkling mineral water to make a refreshing white wine spritzer. You can also freeze left over reds and whites into cubes to use when a recipe calls for a splash of wine.
SAUCES, JUS, BRAISES AND SYRUPS
Wine and food, when they’re enjoyed together life doesn’t get much better. And of course, the wine doesn’t have to be in the glass either – so get cooking and use up that left-over wine.
Beautifully rich and decadent, white wine and butter emulsion sauces, commonly known as beurre blanc, are fantastic with a beautiful piece of white fish.
Slow-cooked red meat dishes
Considered by some to be the ultimate in slow-cooked heaven, beef (French: boeuf) bourguignon is a classic for using up left over red wine. Or try Mediterranean-style one pot wonders like braised lamb shanks or crowd-pleasing bolognese.
White wine sauce
Creamy and comforting with a velvety mouthfeel, wine and cream-based sauces are generally best made with fuller or more textural white wines.
Mussels and risotto
Aromatic white varieties are excellent when used in seafood dishes like mussels in white wine, butter, garlic and saffron or as a base for risotto.
Red wine jus
Turn your left-over reds into a French classic – an intensely rich glaze-like red wine jus. Paired with a quality cut of beef, it creates a powerful and impressive flavour combination.
Poach pears, stew fruits, marinate strawberries, serve a syrup with a souffle or get cool with granita – the options are endless.
WINE HACK 6: MAKE CHEAP WINE TASTE BETTER
If you’re opening a Wine Selectors wine, you’ll never have this problem. However, if you’ve picked up cheap wine at the local bottle shop and it’s not up to standard, here are a few tricks of the trade to help you out!
When the everyday bottle of white wine you’ve just opened simply doesn’t cut it, top up the glass with sparkling mineral water and some dress with a slice of lime/lemon/orange for a refreshing spritzer.
Tart up an average Sparkling as a kir royale by adding some crème de cassis.
Orange juice is a tasty additive when serving Sparkling at breakfast or brunch.
Create a crowd-pleasing sangria using an inexpensive low tannin red – Pinot or Grenache are a good choice. Pour wine into a jug, adding some orange juice, slices of orange, fresh fruit like strawberries, peaches and apple, finish with a decent splash of brandy and some crushed ice.
If the weather is cool, cosy up with warm, red wine-based mulled wine. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and divide among serving glasses.
WINE HACK 7: OPENING A BOTTLE OF WINE WITHOUT A CORKSCREW
With most wines in Australia bottled under screw cap, these days, not having a corkscrew with you is not so much of a problem. But, for those times you do have a wine with a cork and no corkscrew or wine opener, here are some age-old methods. Please note: Before trying any of these methods, make sure to remove the foil from the bottle.
SET OF KEYS
Someone around has to have a set of keys, right? Insert a key into the cork at an angle and twisting it clockwise around the bottle. When you’ve completely gone around the bottle, pull out the key to remove the cork.
THE SHOE TRICK
Simply take off a shoe and place the base of the bottle in the foot hole, then pound the shoe against a stone wall or tree. It will take quite a few taps, but eventually the cork will pop out bit-by-bit. Once it's out enough to grab, pull it out by hand. If you’re wearing thongs, don’t despair, this method also works with Australia’s preferred footwear.
PUSH IT IN
If all else fails, try pushing the cork in the bottle, rather than pulling it out. Place the end of a wooden spoon handle (it must be smaller than the neck of the bottle) on top of the cork and tap on it gently with a rubber mallet or a rolling pin until it drops into the bottle.