3 great ways to use up those bottles you get as host gifts
Credit: photo by Greg DuPree

Whenever I host friends at my home, I end up with at least four bottles of wine brought as host gifts that go un-drunk, so I tuck them in my wine rack for the next party. Of course, the next time I have people over the cycle continues—more wine. Then comes the time I’m due to host or bring a batched cocktail to a brunch, and I’ve got nothing. Maybe a bottle of Prosecco in the back of the fridge, my hard liquor, and those dang bottles of wine.

“Despite the added sugar and unpalatably high tannins, I’m still able to find value in all things that contain alcohol,” Dining In author Alison Roman writes of less than “highly crushable” bottles of wine in Basically. Roman explains that when she finds herself in possession of wine she wouldn’t typically serve to her friends, she goes the route of the wine spritzer: ice, wine, selzer, and citrus. This no-recipe-needed cocktail method applies to using those extra bottles of wine at brunch as well. I’ll start you off with three recipes—one each for red, pink, and white wine—to get you started, but I bet you can take it from here.

Mulled Red Cider

While I love a chilled red at brunch, I’m unlikely to pour myself a glass of Malbec or Syrah at noon. Mulled cider is the ideal application for that bottle of fruity red sitting on the shelf. A handful of warming spices, a glob of honey, and freshly sliced citrus go for a swim with apple cider (you know you impulse-bought a jug at the farmers market last week) and any bottle of red.


1 bottle red wine
6 cups apple cider
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce honey
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves


In a large stockpot, mix together wine, cider, orange juice, and honey. Add orange and lemon slices and the spices. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then serve warm. Keep the cider on low heat until it’s all gone.

White Spritz

The Aperol Spritz was crowned the official brunch drink this past summer, but I welcome you to explore other Italian bitter liqueurs, like Cynar (pronounced “chee-nar”). The bittersweet drink primarily made from artichokes is delightful in wine-based cocktails, as it rounds out their sweetness with herbal notes.


1 bottle white wine
6 ounces Cynar
4 ounces ounces fresh lemon juice
Lemon peel, for garnish


Combine wine, Cynar, and lemon juice in a pitcher and chill. When you’re ready to serve, pour the mixture into wine glasses filled with ice, then top with seltzer. Rub a piece of lemon peel around the lip of the glass before dropping it into the cup.

Rosé Mimosa

Frosé was quickly adopted by summer brunchers looking for a blended beverage that wouldn’t leave them quite as hammered as a margarita. I don’t know about you, but I don’t own a slushie machine, so my frosé never turns out that great. Instead, I go with a rosé mimosa: rosé, grapefruit juice, a splash of Campari or Aperol, and top the whole thing off with Prosecco. Cheers!


1 bottle rosé
2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
2 ounces Campari or Aperol
Prosecco or Champagne


Combine rosé, grapefruit juice, Campari or Aperol in a pitcher and chill. When you’re ready to serve, pour the mixture into flutes or coupe glasses and top with Prosecco or Champagne.