19 Underrated Recipes That Use A Cheap Bottle Of Wine

Wine, as a category, is exhaustingly expansive. There are bottles that cost a small fortune and are difficult to track, and then there are the budget-friendly accessible bottles you can find at a gas station or a grocery store. Everyone's wine palate is different, but even novice home cooks know that wine is used for much more than drinking. It's a pivotal ingredient in the kitchen for sauces, braises, marinades, desserts, and the list goes on. 

Cooking wine is sometimes sold as a separate ingredient from the stuff we drink, but a cheap bottle of wine will yield the same results and, depending on the bottle you're using, it can majorly affect the flavor of your finished product. 

Whether it's a leftover box or red wine or a pinot grigio you just don't like, there are so many ways to use the grape-derived spirit in recipes fit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. If you need some inspiration, we've rounded up 19 underrated recipes that will help you repurpose it into your everyday meals.

1. Red wine braised short ribs

Short ribs taste best when they're braised low and slow in a lot of liquid, so it makes sense to throw some wine into the pot. Red wine helps deepen the already-rich beef flavor. The best technique for braising involves browning the short ribs on all sides before adding in aromatics and liquids, such as onion, carrots, celery, tomato paste, beef broth, garlic, and, of course, the wine. Then, stick the entire pot in the oven for a few hours until the meat is literally falling off the bone. 

Recipe: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

2. Red wine cupcakes

Chocolate and red wine is a natural pairing, so why not combine the two in a cupcake recipe? These pink cupcakes are slightly savory thanks to the wine, but the sugary chocolate helps balance out the flavor. Aside from the wine, the recipe is standard as far as cupcakes go; it isn't a difficult ingredient to throw in and see how it alters the end result. A cabernet sauvignon is a safe bet, but the recipe also works with merlot or pinot noir if that's what you have. 

Recipe: Red Wine Cupcakes

3. Steak in red wine sauce

Another foolproof combination of red wine and beef is a steak smothered in a umami-filled red wine sauce. To make the sauce, you have to save those drippings after pan frying the steak and add butter, herbs, and shallots to the pan. The sauce also features a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, red wine, and mushrooms, so it's as rich as it sounds. The sauce also goes great over rice or potatoes on the side, so it's a fancy meal without too much added effort. 

Recipe: Steak in Red Wine Sauce

4. French onion soup

Soup is all about melding flavors together to make a deeply flavorful broth, and a splash of white wine in a classic French onion soup. It's a small addition that makes a world of difference, making it taste like a cohesive soup rather than just caramelized onions covered in cheese and croutons. The white wine helps to deglaze the pan after you cook down all of those onions to retain the brown bits from the bottom of the pan that will add flavor to the soup. 

Recipe: French Onion Soup 

5. Heart of the Dragon: Game of Thrones-Themed cocktail

Of course, there are always more creative ways to enjoy wine as a beverage other than straight out of the bottle. "Game Of Thrones" fans can easily make up a themed cocktail that features a red wine floater on top of a cocktail comprised of Irish whiskey, honey mead, orange juice, and egg whites. The wine is more for aesthetics than flavor, so it's not the recipe to pop open your best bottle for. 

Recipe: Heart Of The Dragon: A Game Of Thrones-Themed Cocktail

6. Easy beef tips

Beef sirloin tips are a great budget cut that just need a little love and patience to taste great, which is why a rich red wine sauce is the perfect complement. It's another instance of using wine to deglaze the pan after browning, mixed with a similar combination of beef broth, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. The sauce thickens up enough to make a great gravy to serve the beef over mashed potatoes or egg noodles for a simple yet complete meal. 

Recipe: Easy Beef Tips

7. Sweet white sangria

When in doubt over a bottle of wine you don't love, make sangria and call it a day. White wine sangria is a tasty and light sipper that also makes a great big-batch cocktail for a crowd. Take a semi-sweet white wine such as pinot grigio or riesling and mix in peach schnapps, peaches, blueberries, and honey. You can also mix up the fruits based on season to make it as fresh-tasting as possible. 

Recipe: Sweet White Sangria 

8. Pork chops with wine and garlic

One quintessential comfort food is a smothered pork chop, and this recipe ups the ante with by featuring plenty of garlic and a delicious wine-based pan sauce. It all comes together in one pan, featuring white wine, half and half, fresh thyme, and plenty of butter. Oh, and a whopping 18 garlic cloves for four pork chops. That's our kind of ideal garlic ratio. 

Recipe: The Pioneer Woman's Pork Chops with Wine and Garlic Recipe with a Twist

9. Corned beef and cabbage

Enjoy the St. Patrick's Day vibes year-round by making a one-pot corned beef and cabbage recipe that's extremely reliant on white wine. The simple recipe features few ingredients, such as spices, Dijon mustard, and white wine to flavor the meat and cabbage. A dry white wine such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc will result in the best flavor; don't be afraid to add more as the meat cooks to make sure it stays juicy. 

Recipe: Corned Beef and Cabbage

10. Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Pot roast is another weeknight recipe to keep steady in the dinner rotation, mostly because the hearty meal takes minimal effort, thanks to a Crock-Pot. Red wine is the base of the braising liquid that is flavored with Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, and tomatoes. Use a full-bodied red such as a pinot noir or a cabernet sauvignon to add richness to the meat without too much added sugar. 

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

11. Sweet red sangria

It's only right to include a red sangria on the list the complement the white. This one is a bit more fit for winter, with red apples, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and white rum added into the blend. A pro-tip for making this for a crowd is to get a neutral box of red wine for the recipe rather than buying several bottles, as the added ingredients will help add flavor to the otherwise bland wine. 

Recipe: Sweet Red Sangria

12. Simple beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is the classic and beloved French stew that warms you up from the inside out. It's typically labor-intensive, but there are a few short-cuts to make it an accessible weeknight menu. Burgundy wine helps the beef develop the flavor and also helps make the dish truly French throughout. The recipe also includes vegetables such as button mushrooms, pear onions, and carrots flavored with aromatics such as thyme, bay leaves, and bacon. Is your mouth watering yet? 

Recipe: Simple Beef Bourguignon

13. Best mulled wine

Speaking of recipes that warm you up, mulled wine is a must-try cocktail that will make your house smell like the essence of Christmas while you're making it. Maple syrup, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks drive the flavor in this recipe, so there's no need to use your favorite bottle of wine for this recipe. It is better to get a dry wine rather than sweet, but it's ultimately up to flavor preference. 

Recipe: Best Mulled Wine

14. Tender rump roast

Rump roast is one of the most affordable cuts of beef you can buy, which means it needs a little extra patience to make it anywhere as near as tender as a filet. Dry red wine is used to deglaze the pan and keep the meat moist while it's roasting in the oven. The other ingredients in the recipe are fairly simple, so it's a good recipe to teach yourself how wine can truly transform the most simple dishes. 

Recipe: Tender Rump Roast

15. Traditional Gluhwein

Gluhwein is a German beverage that's enjoyed during the holidays that translates to "glow wine" because it's warm. The name might sound complicated to some people, but the recipe for the warm wine cocktail couldn't be simpler. The drink is similar to mulled wine, but this recipe adds flavors such as oranges, cardamom, and black pepper to add even more depth to the flavor. It's traditionally made with dark, dry wine. 

Recipe: Traditional Gluhwein

16. Easy wine slushie

On the opposite end of the spectrum, wine slushies are a must on summer days when you want to drink wine but can't fathom the idea of stomaching dry, lukewarm wine when it's hot out. You can use a sweeter wine for this recipe, as the wine and berries serve as a sort of syrup when blended with ice. You can mix up the fruits you add in, but dark red and black berries add to the dramatic color of this drink. 

Recipe: Easy Wine Slushie

17. Mussels in white wine broth

You don't have to go to a seafood restaurant to enjoy fresh mussels; they're easy to whip up at home. The mussels are the hardest ingredient to source on the entire list, and you want to make sure they're thoroughly cleaned before you start cooking. Dry white wine is the base of the light sauce drenching the shellfish, with flavors of butter, lemon juice, and garlic aiding in the flavor. It also makes a great sauce to sop up with French fries on the side. 

Recipe: Mussels in White Wine Broth

18. Easy coq au vin

Another classic French dish that relies heavily on wine is coq au vin. In fact, the name translates to "rooster in wine," that's how pivotal of an ingredient it is. The red wine helps tenderize the chicken in this dish and form the base of the sauce. As if beef and wine weren't rich enough, salt pork adds even more of a savory element to the plate. 

Recipe: Easy Coq Au Vin

19. Smoky shrimp scampi

Shrimp scampi is typically thought of as shrimp doused in butter and garlic, wine plays an important part in the finished product. The reduced white wine helps to form a concentrated base for the sauce and ensures that it isn't all greasy from butter, but a cohesive sauce with a good mouthfeel. To get the smoky flavor, a can of chipotles in adobo sauce adds a punch to the basic wine sauce. 

Recipe: Smoky Shrimp Scampi