Oxidized Red Wine Reduction

A common problem found in most bars is the excess wine that gets oxidized and subsequently thrown out, but a really good way to upcycle it is by simmering it down into a reduction.

Once it is made into a reduction it can be easily used to intensify the flavor and complexity of your drinks!

It is also one of the best ways to incorporate the actual taste of wine into a cocktail even with just a small amount of it. Just a barspoon of this concentrated wine is enough to pack a cocktail with the additional flavor and color it needs.

On top of that, it tastes better when the wine has actually ‘gone bad’ because of its tartness!

Reducing excess amounts of oxidized wine from your bar is more useful than reusing the wine on its own.

Because most of the water content evaporates, you’ll be left with just a small amounts which can be preserved for longer, easily stored, and can be used sparingly for a diverse range of drinks! The best part…you’ll have less oxidized wine laying around the bar or house without having wasted it!

A Brief Explanation on Oxidation

Oxidized wine is when wine is harmfully exposed to oxygen.

When oxygen comes into contact with wine it begins to break down for better or for worse.

Sometimes it is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, when you open up a bottle of a old heavy-bodied red wine, it’s always a good idea to let it ‘breath’ to let the oxygen break up the tightly knit flavors.

For most bars and restaurants however, bottles of old unused wine can add up easily and go past their prime for serving.

It usually occurs when a bottle has been open for more than 3 days.

Once its been opened for that long, it will take on acidic and tart flavors that are not necessarily harmful, but that may taste unpleasant.

Fear not though, for there is a lot you can do when you have leftover wine on hand, one of which is to reduce it.

By reducing the wine to a syrupy consistency, you will be able to correct the bad flavors as well highlighting some new ones!

You will be leftover with a pungent grape tasting liquid with loads of nice tannic flavors, perfect for adding into your drinks with just an small touch.

Part I:
Infuse with Spices

When reducing wine, it’s a good idea to add anything with it that would normally work well with that wine.

Remember to choose spices that will support the flavors of your wine rather than hurting it.

Think pears, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, etc.

I usually find this wine reduction to be the perfect opportunity to use any other leftover ingredients I have laying around the house or behind the bar.

Here are some of the ingredients (some are food waste) you can use in combination with the wine:

  • Citrus Husk (Skin and/or Pith) for adding citrus and bitter elements;
  • Oregano, Rosemary, or Thyme Stems (great to use the hard woody parts of stems that don’t get eaten but still have lots of herbal flavors);
  • Raisins or Dates (to add sweetness);
  • Peppercorns;
  • Sugar;
  • Salt

Part II:
Wine Reduction

The process for this recipe is similar to when you make a wine reduction used for cooking.

A wine reduction will not just add some of the wine’s’ cooked’ flavor, but will also add acidity depending on how much it has oxidized.

Combine all of the ingredients listed above or any ones that you set aside and pour in your wine.


The following measurements are just to make about 30ml of reduction, so if you want more, simply multiply the amounts to reach your desired quantity.

  • 1 Cup or 1/4L of Oxidized Wine
  • 1 Small Lemon Pith
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Peppercorns
  • 6 Raisins
  • 8 Branches of Thyme and Oregano (no leaves)
  • 1 Barspoon of Sugar
  • pinch of Salt

Have everything in a pot and heat it up with no lid on. Let it reach a boil and lower it down to a simmer.

Let that sit and evaporate for a bit.

The time of reduction will completely depend on how much wine you pour and I find it best that you’ll know when it’s done based on what you see from its texture.

The final result should have the consistency of a simple syrup, and should almost stick to parts of the pot when you swish it around.

You should have just around 30ml reduction from 250ml of initial red wine, but since you will only be using barspoons of it in your cocktails, that leaves you 6 servings of it!

BE CAREFUL! This stuff stains much more than regular wine!

Strain everything out using a fine mesh strainer and be sure to keep the raisins or dates on the side!

They will make a delicious garnish for your drinks after having absorbed all of the wines flavor.

It’s really that easy, and once made, you can use it in just about any drink!

How To Use It

Just like you would use any kind of bitters, you can use this one in most drinks to add depth, acidity, and the unique taste that wine gives out.

An obvious choice is by using it in a New York Sour by shaking it directly into the drink without the red wine float.

Dark spirits work well with the reductions depth of flavors, and the best to choose from are Whiskys and Brandys.

Try grape spirits like Cognac to make the flavors match better with your wine reduction.

Just a couple of drops can change the whole dynamic in a Sazerac for example, especially if you’re making it with a mix of Rye and Cognac.

Try the following recipe which is a simple twist on a New York Sour!

Featured Cocktail:
NY Sour Twist

While not having the elegant presentation as a regular NY sour with the floating red wine, this cocktails serves as an example of how a wine reduction can taste good in a cocktail.

Tannic, juicy, with a pleasant hint of acidity.

  • 50ml Bourbon
  • 25ml Lemon Juice
  • 20ml Simple Syrup
  • 1 Barspoon Oxidized Wine Reduction
  • Garnish: Raisins soaked in wine

Shake & Strain

Serve it in a Nick & Nora or Coupe glass.

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