Mix it up: how to stretch out those last few bottles of wine during lockdown

Mixologist and owner of Molecular Bars, Dino Batista, shares tried and trusted drinks recipes that'll make your vino go further

09 April 2020 - 00:00 By Steve Steinfeld and Dino Batista
Mixing up a jug of sangria is a great way to make a bottle of wine go a long way.
Mixing up a jug of sangria is a great way to make a bottle of wine go a long way.
Image: 123RF/Oleksandra Naumenko

As lockdown rambles towards its third week and rumours of a possible extension have us all reaching for a drink, many of us find ourselves groping at thin air as our liquor cabinets, bar fridges and wine racks rapidly empty. 

Thanks to the government's ban on booze sales, we have no hope of restocking them any time soon. So we asked Dino Batista, mixologist and owner of Molecular Bars, to create some cocktails that would help us stretch out the last of our liquor supplies.

Dino Batista, owner and mixologist at Molecular Bars.
Dino Batista, owner and mixologist at Molecular Bars.
Image: Alexi Portokallis

Batista did a little research, asking his Instagram followers: "What is left in the back of your liquor cabinet or bar fridge that you absolutely have no idea what to do with?"

Surprisingly, the most popular answer was wine. 

"I am not too sure if people realise this but wine has been enjoyed on its own since its creation. Sipped by the glass or chugged straight from the bottle — both methods have always been acceptable," jokes Batista.

He shares three tried and trusted recipes to make a bottle of vino go further: 

SANGRIA

The most obvious use for leftover wine (if such a thing even exists) is to make sangria. However, when you're shoulders-deep inside your drinks cupboard, checking for the third time that this really is the last of it all, it should be evident that any red wine will do.

If you've run out of red, you could also use white wine, but expect a lighter, crisper taste.

Traditionally, brandy is used to fortify this fruity Spanish concoction, where it is added alongside some sugar. Assuming that brandy is something you forgot to stock up on before the lockdown, Fanta Orange is a “suitable” (loosely put) alternative and a little easier to access. It'll also act as the sweetness in your prohibition-style sangria. 

How to make it: 

Combine 750ml red wine, 250ml Fanta Orange, 150ml fresh orange juice, fresh fruit and some herbs and spices in a large jug or pitcher. Stir and let sit in your fridge for 6 to 8 hours. Add ice before serving.

Adjust the ratio of fresh fruit (citrus and/or berries – a light muddle helps here), herbs (mint, thyme, etc) and spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves) depending on the weather. For warmer days, a stronger weighting of fruit to herbs/spices is best. If you’re mixing up sangria on a colder day, add additional warming spices to your jug.

THE KATEMBA

If you're having a lazy day and the thought of lifting an arm to stir something is completely inconceivable, then the Katemba is the drink for you. Although it's believed to have originated in Spain, it's a popular guilty pleasure in Argentina, Croatia, Chile, various parts of Asia and right here in SA. 

How to make it:

Mix equal parts of Coca-Cola and cheap red wine to create a cocktail that's simple yet strangely delightful. Serve over ice, and remember: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

GLÜHWEIN

Generally mulled wine is best made with an apple cider like Savanna or Hunters, but you can use clear apple juice instead (desperate times, hey).

How to make it: 

Combine 750ml dry white wine, 750ml apple juice, 2–3 cinnamon quills, ½ tsp whole cloves and 1 tsp cardamom in a large saucepan. Simmer at a medium-low heat for 5 minutes — don't let it boil. Remove from the heat and serve in glasses garnished with a slice of lemon, a slice of ginger or a slice of turmeric with a sprig of thyme.