Lesson #29: What to Do When You’re a Broke-Ass Ho in Need of Decent Vino for Your Fancy Risotto

by Rachel on September 29, 2010

Most of the time when I am trying to decide whether to cook a recipe, I look at how many ingredients it has and what I’ll have to buy to make it. I like simple, cheap ingredients: garlic, onion, maybe some regular old all-purpose flour. But when a recipe requires something I don’t already have — whether it’s actually expensive or not — I immediately get pissed and don’t want to make it.

Wine is one such ingredient.

You’d think I’d be happy to open a bottle of wine for a recipe, but more often than not, I don’t. It’s just a waste. Sure, I can drink it, and I do sometimes, but it seems like every recipe I want to make calls for white wine, and the fact is, I’m a merlot girl. I’ve tried freezing the leftover wine in cubes, but I often forget to use them, or get them mixed up with my frozen broth cubes (an overpacked freezer is the plight of the woman cooking for one, am I right?) so it just becomes a frustrating ingredient, and, if I want my food to not taste like Hamburger Helper, an expensive one.

However, I recently picked up a tip from Cooking Light that is so simple, yet so life-changing, I don’t even know how to act. You know those mini bottles in hotel rooms or on planes that seem a little bit ridiculous when you’re trying to get all warm and toasty and you have to keep opening another one for each new drink?

Well they are perfect for cooking wine!

Seriously, most recipes only call for a quarter-cup or half-cup of wine, and those bottles are perfect. A four pack is around $6 and you won’t have to worry about wasting the leftovers. Plus, once you buy one pack for a recipe, you’ll have three more servings on hand and won’t have to make an emergency run to the liquor store while you’re in your apron. (Plus, if you’re cooking on a Sunday morning and this happens, like it did when I was making edamame risotto, you’re going to look like a raging alcoholic.)

So this had already opened up a whole new world of recipes for me, and then, this week, I discovered Three Thieves wine.

It comes in super good-for-the planet packaging and is just way cooler than those little Sutter Home bottles that make you think of your grandma.

It’s like a freaking juice box! I mean, yes, I love it for cooking (it’s way easier to lug home from the grocery store and it takes up no space in the fridge) but I’m not above whipping one of these out when I want to toast with vino and not chip my tooth taking it straight from the bottle.

Now no wine is getting wasted, but you might be.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 AmandaD September 29, 2010 at 8:10 am

Those are perfect for outdoor festivities- the beach or camping! No glasses or bottles to break, no corkscrew needed & you can look like a real winner drinking straight from the bottle box :)

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2 Naomi(onefitfoodie) September 29, 2010 at 8:13 am

omg that is a freakin BRILLIANT idea!!!! I love that mini boxed wine! you could pack that up and bring it to work LOL

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3 Leah @ L4L September 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

Yep, I use the little bottle trick myself! :) Or box wine b/c it keeps for a long time in the fridge. If I have zero wine in the house, I’ll just use some lemon juice in place of white wine. And I always have red on hand.

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4 ashleigh September 29, 2010 at 8:26 am

I feel your pain! See, I actually like white wine… but I’m trying to cut back on the booze so it’s nearly impossible to drink and cook with a whole bottle of wine before it goes gross. I like this idea and I like that wine because it looks pretty.. that’s usually how I decide what wine to drink :)

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5 shelby @ eatdrinkrun September 29, 2010 at 8:31 am

I actually really like those Bandit wines. They are perfect for outdoor drinking and the wine is actually decent!

Target also has these little packs of juice-box-sized wines that aren’t bad. I used to buy them when I lived alone and wanted a glass or two of wine in the evening, but didn’t want to open a whole bottle.

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6 AR September 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

How have I never thought of this???

Right there with you on white wine, btw. Can’t do it.

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7 Mandy September 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

I really like that idea. I’ve totally done that before….had to open a whole bottle we had at home to use a cup in dinner, and then didn’t end up drinking it.

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8 Manon September 29, 2010 at 9:02 am

Genius! And speaking of genius, apparently this week is “make soup Rachel posts about”….I thought for SURE I would be having your poor woman’s chicken and dumplings’ babies, but last night I made the creamy white chili you posted on…..Jesus woman. Seriously. I brought leftovers for lunch and I’m hoping I can keep the moaning to a minimum so I’m not the girl who’s making sexy time noises at her desk. We already have one of THOSE girls, and I’d rather be the one telling her to take it to a privacy room than being THAT girl :)

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9 Bethany @ One Girl's Taste On Life September 29, 2010 at 9:11 am

YES! I figured this mini wine bottle trick about a year ago…before I liked wine. Those little bottles are the PERFECT size for cooking! As AmandaD posted above, I love them for picnicking too! They are convenient and very portable! Great post!

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10 Trinidad Pena September 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

3 buck Chuck isn’t actually pretty good!

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11 Trinidad Pena September 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

I meant is actually pretty good! Sorry!

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12 Christie {Honoring Health} September 29, 2010 at 10:01 am

That is what I do! It is so much better than opening a whole bottle for a 1/4 cup. I can no longer drink a whole bottle of wine in one night like I used to and those mini bottles have come to my rescue on more than one occasion.

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13 Angela @ A Healthy Fit September 29, 2010 at 11:33 am

Love this idea! I usually don’t make too many recipes that call for wine and I usually don’t flinch at drinking the rest of the bottle, but this is a great idea! I need to make that risotto too!

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14 Angela @ A Healthy Fit September 29, 2010 at 11:33 am

Oh, and I usually have the hubs helping me out with the drinking the wine part. If I drank a whole bottle myself I would be drunkity drunk drunk.

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15 Kat September 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Laughed at the “wasting the leftovers” concept. Sometimes I seek out wine-based dishes just so I CAN waste the leftovers…in my gullet. My mom and I took a couple of those “juice boxes” out on the beach this past weekend (neatly caressed by freebie lawyer koozies – so classy) which resulted in me randomly shrieking “JUICE BOX!” a la Will Ferrell from “Kicking and Screaming” all day long. I’m 12, really.

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16 Secondhand Smash September 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

This is a really good idea!

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17 Kendra September 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I never have trouble figuring out what to do with the left over wine. The problem is a little more along the lines of having enough wine left to actually use in the recipe.

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18 Alana September 29, 2010 at 9:51 pm

So I LOVE this idea, and wasting wine is a tragedy above many others in the kitchen, but one of your comments made me cringe – the one about the environmentally-friendly packaging.

I don’t know that particular brand of wine, but I am assuming that that is a tetra-pack, if it’s juice box style. Contrary to popular belief, tetra packs are actually incredibly hard to recycle due to the construction. They combine cardboard, metals, waxes and plastics in one very hard-to-separate packaging. Many recycling plants will just toss these boxes, but many are trying very hard to work on a way that this can be reused or recycled in some way.

This all said, I’ve certainly purchased items in tetra packs before, there are only so many options, but a tiny wine in a locally recyclable plastic or glass bottle would be far better for the environment.

Other than that, I love everything else from you, THANKS!

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19 Emily @ Relishments September 30, 2010 at 4:25 am

This is genius! I used to laugh at those little bottles, but now it looks like I may actually be able to rationalize cooking things that use red wine (which we don’t usually buy). Thank you!

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20 sarah @ syrupandhoney October 2, 2010 at 6:26 am

I have the same issue because I don’t always feel like wine two nights in a row and despite all the products out there to keep it fresh, I prefer wine within the first couple days its been opened. I regularly use white wine for deglazing the pan (even for a simple sautee because my go-to pan is not non-stick), so we keep an inexpensive dry vermouth on hand. Comes in handy also for all those recipes you referred to call for a dry white wine. Thanks for the Three Thieves tip!

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