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There’s more to do with wine than just drink it

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Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:55 pm

FAIRBANKS — I don’t drink wine. Not because I am opposed to alcohol (I love a good Irish Cream) but because there is no wine that tastes as good as chocolate does. Yet somehow I have failed to get this message out to friends and acquaintances; I know this because I never make it through the holiday season without someone giving me a bottle wine. In fact, I usually end up with at least one unopened, sitting on my counter, and a few more half consumed containers in the fridge because dinner guests opened but didn’t finish them.

Since I won’t drink it, and the husband doesn’t care for the taste either, what to do? I could take the full bottles to someone else’s house, but I can hardly show up at a dinner party with a box full of half used bottles or cartons of wine. Well, I could I suppose, but I prefer to practice my tightwad habits within the privacy of my own home. So, years ago I realized that until I figured out a way to feed it to the dog, sheep or chickens without harming them, the wine was going to end up in the human food.

I started to freeze it in ice cube trays, adding a cube or two to various soups, stews and beef gravy; while I don’t care to sip a glass of wine, I do like the way it can perk up or deepen the flavor of a cooked dish. However, the winter I ended up with three-gallon freezer bags of wine cubes, I realized it was time to make better use of the dregs.

About the same time I ran across an article that taught me how to make vinegar from wine. It uses up a lot of wine, results in a product superior to commercial vinegars in taste (although you cannot use it for canning because you cannot guarantee the acidity) and the process is easy — except for a short initial investment of effort, most of the work involves waiting around for the chemical reactions to do their job.

I also began searching out recipes that contain wine and put them in one computer file so that I would be more likely to use them. I now have quite a collection. Some use white wine, others red. Quite a few are sauces that can be used to dress up a variety of meat, fish or fowl. I have two canning recipes, and one cake recipe that just recently entered my life.

I now have so many ways to use up wine, that last winter I actually found myself hoping that someone would bring a bottle or box over!

I am not allowed to hog the entire two or three News-Miner pages that it would take to reprint my favorite wine recipes. However, if you want one or more of the following, or the piece on making vinegar, shoot me an email and I will send them off.

Sauces

Beurre Blanc, a tangy, rich white sauce

Red wine reduction sauce

Red wine orange sauce

Red wine sauce for beef and steaks

Red wine sauce for beef and steaks

Canning

Brandied sweet cherries with red wine

Spiced pears with red wine

Sweets

Red velvet cake with wine

Vegetables

Braised artichoke hearts with ham, wine and lemon

Wine-braised potatoes with bacon

Leeks braised in red wine

Pasta with mushrooms and gremolata (gremolata is made of garlic, parsley and lemon peel)

Chicken and Fish

Roast chickens with green beans and artichokes

Chicken marsala

Chicken in pineapple sauce

Shrimp in tomato sauce with onion and green pepper

Seared scallops with white wine

Linden Staciokas is a freelance writer. Contact her at dorking@acsalaska.net.

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