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Leftover Wine: Tuscan tips on what to do with it

Leftover wine. It happens. Maybe after a party when your friends leave and you start tidying up the kitchen. Well, that glass or half bottle of wine can be the first ingredient for a new recipe and a (very) good excuse to invite your friends at dinner once again. Here are five clever ideas to use leftover wine.

You can use white wine to blend a risotto, make a simple dough with flour and olive oil to use as a base for a rustic cake and even prepare an “alla Fiorentina” pork loin; while red wine is perfect with ragù sauce and fish soups such as “cacciucco” (a fish-stew native to the western coastal towns of Tuscany).

Leftover Wine in a “sugo finto” recipe

There is a delicious tomato sauce for pasta that we call “sugo finto,” which means literally “fake sauce.” This is because it imitates meat but it’s actually vegetarian. The recipe belongs to popular tradition from when meat was rare and an expensive ingredient. It is prepared with carrots, onions, celery and red wine that gives a good texture to the final result. You mix this up in a saucepan with olive oil, and then add crushed tomatoes, salt and sugar to taste, and let simmer – the longer the better. This sauce is perfect to prepare an oh-so-tasty pici pasta.

Wine Donuts

Wine Donuts are perfect with a hot scolding hot espresso - What to do with leftover wine

Wine Donuts are perfect with a hot scolding hot espresso

Wine Donuts used to be my favorite snack as a kid: they remind me a time when bread, sugar and just a sip of wine replaced industrial snacks. They are perfect with a scolding hot espresso at the end of a long meal with friends. You can prepare them using half-glass of wine, either red or white, half glass of extra virgin olive oil, half glass of sugar and three glasses of flour. Add a teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and grated lemon as finishing touches and let the dough rest for ten minutes. Once ready, create small donuts with your hands, cover with sugar and put them in a baking pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 180 celsius.

Il peposo dell’Impruneta

The secret behind the "Peposo"? Red Wine! - Leftover wine

The secret behind the “Peposo”? Red Wine!

Leftover wine is the “secret” ingredient of one of the most classic Florentine recipes, the Peposo dell’Impruneta. This peppery beef stew has a long story. It was invented by the “fornaciai” who also baked the terracotta tiles for the Brunelleschi’s Duomo. They mixed beef steak, salt, lots of black pepper (in Italian “pepe” hence the name “peposo”) and red wine in terracotta pots and let it all bake slowly in a corner of the oven. The original recipe doesn’t include tomatoes because they had not yet arrived in Europe, but in modern times many people also add this. Legend says that this was Brunelleschi’s favorite food… will it become yours?

Pears in Wine

This easy recipe combines just a few simple ingredients to turn ripe pears into a delicious homemade jam: ripe pears are combined with red wine, dark chocolate and spices to create an elegant dessert, perfect for the autumn days. Peel the ripe pears and cook over low heat in a syrup of red wine, water, sugar, anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Let them cool in the in the syrup, then drain and cover with a chocolate sauce.



Bread, wine and pecorino cheese.

The secret behind this antipasto is a glass of white wine that evaporates in cooking but leaving an unmistakable scent. This simple recipe was created with the idea of using leftovers: white wine, stale bread a few slices of Tuscan pecorino cheese. Place slices of bread in a baking dish, sprinkle with white wine, then place slices of pecorino on top. Repeat with a second (even third!) layer and finish with olive oil. Bake in a hot oven until the bread turns crispy and gold and the pecorino melts. This recipe is the perfect start for a casual dinner with friends.