Ellen Clifford
May 25, 2016 7:00 am

Today is National Wine Day, and unlike Drink Wine Day (February 18th), today we aren’t limited to purely drinking the fantastic stuff to celebrate. While I do love wine on its own, I also like to have a little fun with it. There is much to do with it besides politely swirling and sipping. I came up with seven options (one for each day of the week) for you to exploit that precious grape-y goodness.

1) Cherry Pottage

Cherry Pottage

A recipe dating from ye olde medieval times, pottage is a thick sorta pudding thing. That is truly the best I know how to explain it. It’s made from cherries, bread, sugar and wine — you know, the four food basic food groups. Also, it is THE THING you need to celebrate the coming solstice.

2) Slushies

I admit I have rejected this idea in the past but this article inspired me to make a pretty slushy of my own. I made up my own recipe you can read below. Try it, and if you like it, try some more! My main tip when it comes to picking the right wine for a slushy is to use one that is un-oaked. A fruity Shiraz, Beaujolais, or Merlot is a good bet for a red. I used a red blend based on the Barbera grape from Unti Vineyards. For a white avoid the Chardonnays and grab a Riesling or Pinot Grigio. If you want a sweet drink a Moscato is even okay.

Summer Slush-fund Smoothie

Blend and pour the following:

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Cointreau or another sweet orange liqueur
  • Dash honey (or maple syrup if vegan)–make that a heavy dash if your fruit is tart
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Tiny pinch nutmeg
  • Small handful of ice

3) Dark Cherry-Merlot Sauce

This stuff us just the best. Love it. It is exemplary on plain vanilla bean ice cream, and not bad on a spoon, either.

Dark Chocolate-Merlot Sauce adapted from Incredibly Decadent Desserts by Deb Wise

  • 2 cups frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, thawed
  • 1 cup Merlot (I used a Bordeaux which was actually a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat. Mash about half the cherries (I used a potato masher). Cook until reduced to 1 cup. Allow to sit five minutes before using. Then lavish on ice cream.

4) Freeze It

Repeat after me: I will not cook with wine I would not drink. I will NOT cook with wine I would not drink…In other words, do not use that gnarly stuff on the supermarket shelves labeled as “cooking wine.” I know, I know, sometimes you don’t want to open a bottle of wine for just the couple of tablespoons of wine a recipe requires. My first instinct is to say “drink the rest, dummy!” but the kinder me says “maybe you have important things to do and want to save that wine for later.” Well, the solution is to pour it into ice cube trays, then put them into baggies once frozen. Then whenever you need a small amount you can grab a cube or two.

5) Champagne Tower

Build a champagne tower! Yes, bubbly is festive on its own, but it is even more festive when cascading from a tower of coupes. I was scared to do this but it really is not so tough! I used some not-too-expensive pink bubbly (a lovely and affordable offering from Korbel) since I surmised there would be spilling. I got two bottles because one doesn’t quite fill up all those glasses. Please take my advice on wine at least a little seriously. You want wine that is really good, but affordable enough that you are not distraught when it spills some. This Korbel filled that bill.

As for what glasses to use…to risk breakage or not? I decided not too use my vintage coupes that I inherited from my grandma. I went to BevMo and bought some plastic party coupes. If I do this again I will use real glasses because it was a total success, minus some spilling. But the cups got filled and nothing fell. To do what I did, you make a row of three coupes, then two, then three. Then atop those you place four, making sure the diamond-shapes openings between the glasses are easily and fully filled by the bottom of the other glasses. Then one singular glass goes atop it all. Then pop the booze and pour into the top glass. Such fun. So pretty. So shockingly easy. You will probably spill some but that is okay. It’s a party.

6) Mustard

Wine makes for some tasty mustard, my dears. Hopefully you are not eating so much mustard that it gets you tipsy but just saying, it is possible. Check out the recipe by clicking here. I used a white wine made of Bacchus grapes which is not normal but neither am I. Any light white wine will do. It’s a good use for that cheap pinot grigio a well-meaning friend brought to your party.

7) Energize 

Have you ever heard of the Kalimoxto? In the Basque it is a drink comprising of Coke and red wine. And ice. Sounds cheesy, but it is the most refreshing not to mention caffeinating beverage ever. It is about 2/3 red wine, 1/3 cola and you pour that over ice. Made mine recently with Diet Cherry Coke because I am crazy like that. And yes, those are skull and cross bones ice cubes in my drink.

So those are your ideas. Ideally the wine is a thing you want to sip and contemplate alone. But wine has many faces. Try out a few!

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