14 Practical Wine Hacks That Are Here to Save the Day

We've got all the clever solutions to your most troubling wine problems.

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Hacks That Help (We Tested Them, We Know!)

By Angela Carlos for Food Network Kitchen

If you drink wine, you need these tips. That’s a bold statement, but it’s true. There is hardly a wine drinker out there, no matter if you are the two-buck bottle or fine burgundy type, who hasn’t found themselves in a wine bind.

Forgetting to chill your bottles, letting perfectly good wine oxidize beyond drinkable in your fridge, chewing on cork just to save face after breaking it off in that splurge bottle you bought — these are all fixable problems. You just need the right hack. To help you out, we searched the internet, talked to experts, racked our brains and tested popular theories to come up with this list of clutch wine hacks to keep in your back pocket for when the time is right.

Chill a Bottle on the Fly

Company is ringing the bell and your wine never made it into the fridge? No worries. As long as you have water, paper towels and a freezer you are good to go. Generously wet the towels and wrap them around your bottle. Pop it in the freezer for about 10 minutes (set a timer!) and you will have a perfectly chilled bottle of wine for your guests before the appetizers hit the coffee table.

DIY a Wine Opener

There's nothing worse than getting ready to open your favorite bottle and realize you're without a corkscrew. Lucky for you, we weeded through all the ineffective and downright dangerous ways to open a bottle out there and found one that works.

You’ll need some tools — a long screw, screwdriver and hammer. Remove the foil from the bottle top. Using the screwdriver, turn the screw into the cork until only about 1/4-inch of the screw is still visible. Then take the claw end of the hammer, slide it around the screw and pull straight up until the cork is free. It takes a little elbow grease, but it works.

Save Leftover Wine for Weeks

It happens: Sometimes we open a bottle on Monday for that one glass, leave it untouched the rest of the week and by Saturday it ends up poured down the drain. What a waste! Instead, take any ice cube tray you have on hand and freeze wine cubes in it for cooking (note the volume of each cube for use in future recipes). Pop the cubes in a plastic bag and they'll last for weeks. Use them to deglaze a pan and make a quick pan sauce, enrich a spaghetti sauce or to make an ice-cold wine cocktail.

Skip the Ice Cubes When Serving

Sommeliers, please cover your ears. But on a hot summer day, we can’t help but drop an ice cube or two in our rosé to keep it at a refreshing temperature. The downside: the last few sips are inevitably 50/50 water to wine. This year, we're keeping a bag of frozen grapes on hand. Add a few to your glass and your wine will stay chilled without becoming watered down.

Remove that Pesky Wine Stain

Murphy’s Law says that if you are wearing a white shirt while drinking red wine, you will spill it on yourself. Now what? First, you need to completely cover the stain in salt. Don't just sprinkle — press the salt into the stain for good measure. Let the shirt sit for at least 2 hours then stretch it over a bowl and pour boiling water over the stain. Ta-da! You’ll see the stain fade away.

Blend for a Better Taste

Ever opened a bottle of wine and it just falls flat on your palate? That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad wine. It might just need some aeration to open up the bouquet and let those flavors come alive. (This is what people are talking about when they say to let wine "breathe.") Unfortunately, most of us don’t have aerators in our kitchen drawers. But we do have blenders, which are great at whipping air into things quickly.

Pour your wine straight into the blender, turn it on the highest setting for 20 to 30 seconds, and then pour it back into the bottle. You’ll have great-tasting wine and no one will ever know your secret.

Grab Cork Bits

Even a practiced wine opener breaks a cork from time to time. But you don’t have to awkwardly spit out cork pieces as you enjoy your glass of wine.

All you need is a coffee filter and a rubber band. Place the filter over your wine glass and secure with the rubber band. Then pour the wine through the filter to catch all the tiny pieces of cork. A votre sante!

Whip Up a Slushy

The classic frosé goes through a long freezing process, but if you are impatient, you can make a 5-minute wine slushy that will not disappoint.

In a 1:1 ratio, blend your wine with frozen cherries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches or any other frozen fruit you think would complement the wine's flavors. Add honey or lemon juice to make it as sweet or tangy as you wish.

Yesterday's Wine Becomes Today's Cocktail

If you've left a bottle of wine to oxidize in the fridge a day or two too long, you can salvage it, nay, proudly serve it to guests without them being any the wiser. Just add a few flavorful ingredients to liven up the taste and aroma — think shortcut sangrias.

For white wines, add fresh sliced peaches, nectarines or lemon, plus a sprig of rosemary or thyme and a spritz of soda water.

For red or rosé, add fresh sliced cherries, strawberries, sliced orange or lime, plus a sprig of mint and a splash of soda water.

Make 2-Ingredient Red Wine Vinegar

Don’t want to waste that 35-dollar bottle of red wine that’s starting to turn? Ferment some vinegar on your countertop.

Fermentation requires three things: alcohol or sugars (good red wine), bacteria (unpasteurized apple cider vinegar) and oxygen (the air). The unpasteurized part is really important. You need those live bacteria cultures to make this work. Combine 3 cups wine with 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a blender. Blend it on high for 20 to 30 seconds to really aerate the mixture. Then pour into a large glass jar and cover the opening with a paper towel. Use rubber bands to secure the paper towel to the neck. Put the date on the jar (so you’ll know when it’s ready) and store it in a cool (around 68 to 75 degrees F), dark place.

Shake the jar once a day for the next 2 days. Then let it ferment, untouched, for 1 to 2 months or until you’ve achieved your desired taste. Keep an eye out for mold. (If you see any, you'll have to toss everything and start over.) Transfer the vinegar to airtight containers, where it will keep for 6 to 8 months.

Pour this Wine Syrup on Everything

Turn your leftover wine into syrup perfect for drizzling over ice cream, sliced fruit, pie and pancakes. One taste and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever enjoyed wine any other way. Combine wine and sugar in a saucepan using a 3 to 1 ratio and simmer until you’ve achieved a thick, syrupy consistency. Transfer the syrup to a jar and cool completely in an ice bath before refrigerating. It should keep for about 1 month.

Make that Bottle Last Just a Little Bit Longer

Wine begins to spoil when it comes into contact with oxygen. (That’s why screwcap wines tend to taste fresh for longer — metal caps are less porous than cork closures.) The more surface area that's exposed, the faster the wine will turn. So it stands to reason, if you want to keep your wine fresher longer, you just need to reduce the surface area. For really special wine you want to enjoy over several days, transfer your ever-shrinking supply to increasingly smaller containers as you go, keeping as much oxygen away from the wine as possible.

Keep it Chill with this Frozen Wine Holder

Want to keep your wine chilled for the whole party, while also making a festive statement?

Take a plastic container (we used a small bucket, but empty 1/2-gallon milk or juice carton would work too, if you cut the top off). Add 1-inch water to the bottom and place in the freezer on a flat surface until solid, about 1 hour.

Remove the container from the freezer, place a clean empty wine bottle with a high neck inside. Tape the bottle to the sides of the container to keep it from floating. Stuff flower petals, berries, herbs or any other festive décor in the sides. Then fill the container with water up to the wine bottle's shoulders and freeze until solid, about 3 hours. (You'll need a pretty large freezer to do this, since the bottle must stand upright while the mold freezes.)

Coax the ice mold out of the container by dipping it on some warm water until it releases easily. About 10 minutes before serving, use an aerator or funnel to transfer your wine to the frozen bottle. Wrap a clean dish towel or cloth napkin around the bottom of your ice caddy for serving.