My Favorite Leftover Wine Recipe

If you’re like me you are constantly ending up with leftover wine.  Since I am loathe to pour my leftover wine down the drain, the bottles tend to accumulate.  Here are some tips for using leftover wine and a fabulous recipe for Zinfandel Chicken Marbella adapted from 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy With Wines You Love by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2011).

How to Cook With Wine

I sometime hesitate to use my leftover wine in cooking.  I mean, I won’t drink it, so can I really cook with it?  The answer is: yes, sometimes. Jill Silverman Hough offers this advice.

  • How to know if the leftover wine is too old? If you wouldn’t drink it simply because, after being open, it’s lost some of its nuance, you can cook with it. If you wouldn’t drink it because you think it tastes lousy, regardless of how long it’s been open, Hough wouldn’t recommend cooking with it. She adds: “Any recipe is only as good as the ingredients that go into it.”
  • Cook with red when a recipe calls for red, white when a recipe calls for white, dry (not sweet) when a recipe calls for dry, and sweet when a recipe calls for sweet. Beyond that, the particular type of, say, dry red wine that you use isn’t critical.
  • Know that when you add wine to a dish, essentially what you’re adding is a mild acid, which will have the effect of decreasing your experience of acid and tannins and increasing your experience of fruit or sweetness in the wine you pair with it.

Zinfandel Chicken Marbella

From the Zinfandel chapter of 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy With Wines You Love by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2011).

“Here’s a red wine riff on the Silver Palate’s crowd-pleasing, amazingly easy to prepare Chicken Marbella. The resulting dish is satisfyingly fruity and bright, yet fantastically Zinfandel friendly.”

Yield: Serves 6 to 8


  • 1/2 cup Zinfandel, or other dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 small orange, halved lengthwise (into quarters) and cut into 1/4-inch slices (peel and all)
  • 1/2 small lemon, halved lengthwise (into quarters) and cut into 1/4-inch slices (peel and all)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup drained capers, plus 1 tablespoon packing liquid
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the wine, olive oil, vinegar, orange, lemon, raisins, olives, capers, caper packing liquid, bay leaves, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  2. Divide the chicken between two large resealable bags, divide the olive oil mixture between them, and seal, squeezing out as much air as possible. Set aside in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange one rack in the bottom third of the oven and another in the middle.
  4. Arrange the chicken, skin side up, in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Squeeze the marinade mixture, including the fruit, olives, and capers, out of the bag and over the chicken, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and bake, basting every 15 or 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes. (You can prepare the chicken a day in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator. Reheat in the juices or serve at room temperature.)
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken, fruit, olives, and capers to a platter or plates. Spoon some of the pan juices on top. Serve hot or at room temperature, passing any remaining pan juices at the table.

© 2011, Jill Silverman Hough. All rights reserved.

How To Make This Recipe More Sustainable

From our sister publication, Green Living Ideas:

“The best way for a conscious consumer to ensure that he or she chooses the most sustainable poultry available is to research the conditions of the poultry production process.  Check the online farmer database at Food Alliance to find a sustainable chicken or turkey supplier near you.  Always research your organic and free-range chicken and turkey producers, and whenever possible, support local producers whose operations you can observe for yourself.”

Wine Pairing Suggestion From

Big Fish 2006 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
The Big Fish 2006 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel has a deep garnet color. Rich aromas of brambleberry radiate to the nose. Lots of big fruit flavors in the mouth, ripe red berries, plum, briar, leading to spicy pepper and oak in a long satisfying finish. It’s an elegant and well-integrated wine.


Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

About The Author

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Leftover Wine Recipe”

  1. This looks delicious, and I’ll give it a try next time I’m having my extended family to dinner. Sure to be a hit with kids and grownups alike.

    One thing that would make it more sustainable is to marinate in a glass dish rather than plastic bags. Presumably, one would have to remember to turn the meat frequently. Any reason you feel that wouldn’t work as well?

  2. I used to be a winemaker, and I once had an intern from Bordeaux. He told me that whenever you run into a corked bottle of wine, you save it for Coq au Vin. In Bordeaux they know a thing or two about wine, and in France they know a thing or two about cooking, so there you have it.

    Much of what makes a wine defective are compounds that will dissipate once you start heating your dish. So the assertion that if wine is not very good you shouldn’t cook with it is a bit misleading.

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