12 Unusual Ways to Use Wine and Old Wine Bottles

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The numbers don’t lie—our obsession with wine is real—but the benefits of this magical elixir go well beyond consumption. From anti-aging treatments to home décor, wine and old wine bottles can come in handy in nearly every part of life. Here are 12 unexpected ways you can benefit from your next bottle.

1. FRUIT FLY TRAPS

As summer fills the air, so do gnats and fruit flies. But fear not—it's wine to the rescue! Flies are attracted to wine's fermented smell; a quick DIY trap (pouring wine in a bowl or mug and placing it in the infested areas) will attract then kill those pests.

2. SKIN REJUVENATION


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Fermented grapes (wine's core ingredient) have powerful anti-aging properties that fight wrinkles, treat sun damage and restore collagen, improving the skin’s overall appearance. Add a glass of red wine to your next soak in the tub (not counting the glass you drink during said soak, of course) or splash it on your face for a quick skin-firming mask. Double bonus: It’s also known to soften skin. 

3. DIY FERTILIZER


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Wine isn’t just for humans; plants love it, too. If you want to show up your green-thumb neighbors, grab a Malbec or Merlot and a compost bin to create your very own fertilizer. Red wine activates bacteria in compost that transforms it from trash into highly effective fertilizer.

4. RED WINE STAIN REMOVER

Cleaning spilled wine on a carpet
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Nothing's worse than spilling red wine on your carpet or a favorite shirt, but—in a counterintuitive turn of events—a delicious white can actually remove the stain. White wine absorbs the red wine color after just a few minutes, and once dabbed up, can remove the stain entirely.

5. FRUITS AND VEGGIES CLEANER

washing cherry tomatoes
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According to a study from Oregon State University, the alcohol in white wine can kill nasty food-borne pathogens like salmonella and E-coli. Douse your produce with old wine instead of water to fully clean fruits and veggies. Bonus tip: White wine is also a great kitchen disinfectant, and can remove tough grease and oil stains in the garage or driveway.

6. WHIP UP WINE JELLY

Making jelly
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Wine slushies were so 2016; this summer, try your hand at wine jelly. Combine sugar, liquid pectin and your favorite two-day-old wine to make some grown-up spreads. For an extra splash of class, throw in strawberries or blueberries (especially if you're using a white or champagne). To get started, try this wine jelly recipe from Food.com.

7. HOMEMADE VINEGAR


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As wine ages, it slowly transitions from delicious drink to rancid vinegar. Sure, it may not smell great, but leaving a bottle (3/4 full or less) out for a few weeks will turn your old, unusable wine into—voila!—a homemade bottle of vinegar.

8. HEALTHY MEAT MARINADE

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Yes, we all know red wine is good for you (in moderation, of course), but did you know it can actually improve the healthiness of your meat? Marinating steak or pork in red wine for at least six hours can reduce the carcinogens caused by grilling and frying. More of a beer lover? Newer research shows beer is a carcinogen-reducing marinade, too.

9. A TALL BOOTS FIX 


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Is your closet full of toppled-over boots? Grab those wine bottles for a DIY fix. After cleaning your bottle thoroughly, place it in the calf section of your tall boots to keep them upright and tidy.

10. HOMEMADE BOOK ENDS

Fill an empty, clean bottle of wine with sand from your recent travels, then use it as a sturdy bookend for a nostalgic decoration. Not only will you remember a favorite getaway every time you grab a book, you'll equally reminisce about that delicious wine of yesteryear.

11. SALAD DRESSING CANISTERS


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Instead of the store-bought plastic salad dressing containers, add some pizzazz to your next dinner party by using a cleaned out, label removed wine bottle as your salad dressing canister. Whether it's homemade or from the store, your wine-bottled dressing will look perfectly posh.

12. WINE BOTTLE LAMPS


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Relive the memory of your favorite vino day in, day out by turning that bottle into a lamp. While it may feel more (wo)man cave than dining room appropriate, a simple DIY lamp kit will add new life—and light—to your most cherished bottles.

5 Wild Facts About Mall Madness

Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The mall, home of fashion brands, bookstores, and anchor locations like Sears, was a must-visit location for Americans in the 1980s and 1990s—and especially for teenagers. Teens also played Mall Madness, a board game from Milton Bradley introduced in 1988 that tried to capture the excitement of soft pretzels and high-interest credit card shopping in one convenient tabletop game. Navigating a two-story shopping mall, the player who successfully spends all of their disposable income to acquire six items from the shopping list and return to the parking lot wins.

If you’re nostalgic for this simulated spending spree, you're in luck: Hasbro will be bringing Mall Madness back in fall 2020. Until then, check out some facts about the game’s origins.

1. Mall Madness was the subject of a little controversy.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Milton Bradley put a focus on the tween demographic. Their Dream Phone tasked young players with finding the boy of their dreams; Mall Madness, which began as an analog game but quickly added an electronic voice component, served to portray tweens as frenzied shoppers. As a result, the game drew some criticism upon release for its objective—to spend as much money as possible—and for ostensibly portraying the tweens playing as “bargain-crazy, credit-happy fashion plates,” according to Adweek. Milton Bradley public relations manager Mark Morris argued that the game taught players “how to judiciously spend their money.”

2. The original Mall Madness may not be the same one you remember.

The electronic version of Mall Madness remains the most well-known version of the game, but Milton Bradley introduced a miniature version in 1988 that was portable and took the form of an audio cassette. With the game board folded in the case, it looks like a music tape. Opened, the tri-fold board resembles the original without the three-dimensional plastic mall pieces. It was one of six games the company promoted in the cassette packaging that year.

3. Mall Madness was not the only shopping game on the market.

At the same time Mall Madness was gaining in popularity, consumers could choose from two other shopping-themed board games: Let’s Go Shopping from the Pressman Toy Corporation and Meet Me At the Mall from Tyco. Let’s Go Shopping tasks girls with completing a fashion outfit, while Meet Me At the Mall rewards the player who amasses the most items before the mall closes.

4. There was a Hannah Montana version of Mall Madness.

In the midst of Hannah Montana madness in 2008, Hasbro—which acquired Milton Bradley—released a Miley Cyrus-themed version of the game. Players control fictional Disney Channel singing sensation Hannah Montana as she shops for items. There was also A Littlest Pet Shop version of the game, with the tokens reimagined as animals.

5. Mall Madness is a collector’s item.

Because, for the moment, Hasbro no longer produces Mall Madness, a jolt of nostalgia will cost you a few dollars. The game, which originally sold for $30, can fetch $70 or more on eBay and other secondhand sites.

10 'Nuts' That Aren't Actually Nuts

None of these "nuts" are truly nuts.
None of these "nuts" are truly nuts.
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Who doesn’t love a pedantic houseguest? Next time you’re at a dinner party and someone breaks out the mixed nuts, seize the moment and let everyone know that a lot of the tasty treats we call nuts don’t actually merit the title. Botanists define a “nut” as a dry, one-seeded fruit encased in a hardened ovary wall (called a pericarp). Genuine nuts are fused to their shells and won’t naturally break open upon reaching maturity. Hazelnuts fit the criteria. So do chestnuts. But these ever-popular snack foods sure don’t.

1. Peanuts

The star ingredient of America's favorite nut butter isn't actually a nut. Instead, peanuts are considered legumes, along with soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas. Unlike nuts, most legumes come in self-opening pods—which may or may not grow underground, depending on the species. 

2. Almonds

A group of almonds in wood bowl atop a rustic table
These almonds formed inside a fleshy fruit.
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Almonds are seeds found within the fleshy, peach-like fruits of the Asian Prunus dulcis tree. They’ve earned a spot on our list because actual nuts don’t come wrapped up in softened fruit matter. So how do botanists classify almonds? As drupe seeds. Briefly stated, a drupe is a soft fruit with a hard inner shell. (Think peach pits.)

3. Cashews

Like almonds, cashews are drupe seeds pulled from soft fruit packages. The trail mix staples poke out of red, yellow, or green “cashew apples” that grow on South American trees. Cashew seeds are naturally protected by a toxin-coated outer shell that's roasted to neutralize the acid. In spite of this defense mechanism, the yummy snacks were soon embraced by Portuguese explorers and distributed across the globe.

4. Walnuts

A squirrel eating walnuts in a park
The walnuts this squirrel is noshing on are drupes, not nuts.
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Hey look, it’s another member of the drupe clan! Walnuts inhabit green fruit on temperate trees in the genus Juglans. Most of the seeds that end up on American dining room tables come from the English walnut tree, Juglans regia [PDF]. Even if you don’t eat the drupes, you can probably find a use for them: Walnut shells have been incorporated into everything from cosmetic products to kitty litter.

5. Pine nuts

About 20 pine tree species—including the Italian stone pine—produce big seeds that get harvested en masse. Those seeds are removed from cones in a meticulous process, which accounts for their high selling prices.

5. Brazil Nuts

You’ll encounter Brazil nuts all over the Amazon rainforest, in such countries as Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and (of course) Brazil. They come from a hardened 4-to-6-pound pod containing up to two dozen seeds that might become trees someday. The pods are so hefty, getting bonked on the head by a falling one is enough to stun or even kill you.  Surprisingly, Brazil Nuts can also be fairly radioactive thanks to the trees' roots, which grow deep within radium-rich soil.

7. Macadamia Nuts

Rows of trees at an Australian Macadamia orchard
An Australian macadamia orchard filled with the country's native drupe.
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Gympie, Queensland, has an odd claim to fame: Approximately 70 percent of all the macadamia nuts on Earth are descended from trees grown in the Australian town. Macadamias are an ecological staple in Queensland and New South Wales. But—stop us if this sounds familiar—their so-called “nuts” are drupes.

8. Pistachios

Not only are pistachios drupes, but they’ve got shells that automatically open with a literal popping noise once the contents reach a certain size. When all’s said and done, though, at least pistachios are Frank Drebin-approved.

9. Pecans

The Algonquian term for “nut that requires a stone to crack” gave us the English word pecan. Wild pecans can be gathered in Mexico and the United States—they’re true North American treasures. Name origin aside, they can’t accurately be called nuts. Botanists usually refer to them as drupes, but because of their tough shells, the label “drupaceous nuts” might be more appropriate. Either way, pecans aren’t true nuts. They make for great pies, though.

10. Coconuts

A monkey sticks out its tongue while eating a coconut
This cheeky monkey seems to be enjoying its delicious drupe.
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A drupe of unusual size, the coconut is a fibrous juggernaut that bears a single seed. The whitish fleshy interior can be immersed in hot water and then rung out through a cloth to produce coconut milk. Meanwhile, the outer shells are responsible for some of the most delightfully bizarre Guinness World Records categories, such as “most green coconuts smashed with the head in one minute.” (You can see other unusual Guinness World Record categories here.)

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