Chef John's Secret

Leftover Wine

Left over red wine? So you have a bottle or two, maybe three or four with a few ounces or even a glass worth or so left. By now the taste is pretty bad and you are ready to throw it out. Wait...there is a great way to save all of it for use in cooking. Trendy chefs may or may not already know about this but it hasn't become mainstream yet.
Balsamic Glaze
Like the balsamic vinegar glaze, a chef's favorite garnish, in the new world of cooking, is a reduction applied from a squeeze bottle. Some squiggle designs on a plate for a show stopping ah! Go back in French culinary history and you will see the painstaking designs made by Antoine Careme, in the beginning of the 1800's, are now copied and applied from the squueze bottle. Yup, the same red and yellow squeeze bottles you see at picnic and bars for dispensing ketchup and mustard. I'm sure you have seen the drizzle, swirl and/or crisscross lines of dark reduced balsamic vinegar upon your field green salad, tomatoes caprese, even your steamed chicken or your fish dish.
Let's look at another reduction or glassa or crema: my solution to the leftover wine is to make a Red Wine Glaze out of it and then use it for a multitude of uses as balsamic vinegar glaze is used. What's even nicer about this is the terrific color you get...certainly not the drab dark brown of the vinegar reduction. Balsamic vinegar is very dark, concentrated, and intensely flavoured vinegar made from grape must reduced down to a glassa or crema. Slowly made from a mixture of concentrated grape must and aged balsamic vinegar of Modena, this mouth watering cream is a perfect compliment to cheese, strawberries and grilled meats.
Cooked Wine
I've been making this for years from leftover dribs and drabs of red wine. You know the wine left in the bottles that you might not finish and to your surprise aren't that good a few days later. I figurged that rather than wasting money and just throwing tit away that I would collect the Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel or what ever red wine ther was and reduce it with sugar. The result is as Balsamic Glaze, a perfect accompaniment for cheese, fresh strawberries, fruit salad, even ice cream, not to mention on steak, grilled chicken, roast lamb and even grilled tuna!

Red Wine Swirl

Chef John's Red Wine Glaze Crema

red wine, leftovers of any variety
a heavy botton pot

For every cup of red wine add 2 tablespoons of sugar into a a heavy bottom pot of an appropriate size, then bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat and turn it down to simmer. Reduce to a syrup, and when the syrup becomes foamy in the pan, it's done cooking. Cool it and put it in a squeeze bottle to decorate or flavor anything you like!