ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have four bottles of very expensive wine that unfortunately are not drinkable. Is there anything you can do with wine that’s gone off? I was thinking perhaps I could make some vinegar? Or should they be poured right down the drain?

—Lesa, Florida

Dear Lesa,

You didn’t say how or why the wine isn’t drinkable, so I’ll assume it’s either oxidized or contaminated with TCA; that is, either it tastes tired and nutty or musty and dank. In either case, yuk.

And in either case, there’s no second life for wine that I’d recommend. There’s no fun in cooking with bad wine—it does nothing to help the flavor of your dish. As far as vinegar goes, once you get the hang of it, making vinegar from leftover wine can be a good way to use every last drop. But I wouldn’t recommend using bad wine to make vinegar. If a wine has TCA, you risk your whole batch taking on a musty note. If the wine is already oxidized, well, the whole process of turning wine into vinegar is meant to oxidize the wine in the presence of the vinegar mother’s enzymes, and you’ve bypassed that.

—Dr. Vinny


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