Can You Compost Wine: Learn About Wine’s Effect On Compost

Can You Compost Wine: Learn About Wine’s Effect On Compost

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By: Teo Spengler

You know all about compostingveggie peels and fruit cores, but what about composting wine? If you tossleftover wine into the compost heap, will you be harming or helping your pile? Somepeople swear that wine is good for compost piles, but wine’s effect on compostlikely depends on how much you are adding. For more information aboutcomposting wine, read on.

Can You Compost Wine?

You might wonder why anyone would waste wine by pouring iton a compost heap in the first place. But sometimes you purchase wine thatdoesn’t taste good, or you let it sit around so long it turns. That’s when youmight think of composting it.

Can you compost wine? You can, and there are a lot oftheories about wine’s effect on compost.

One is certain: as a liquid, wine in compost will stand infor required water. Managing moisture in a working compost heap is essential tokeeping the process going. If the compost pile gets too dry, the essentialbacteria will die for lack of water.

Adding stale or leftover wine to the compost is anenvironmentally friendly way to get liquid in there without using waterresources to do it.

Is Wine Good for Compost?

So, it’s probably not detrimental to your compost to addwine. But is wine good for compost? It might be. Some claim that wine acts as acompost “starter,” spurring on the bacteria in the compost to get busy.

Others say that the yeast in wine gives a boost to thedecomposition of organicmaterials, especially wood-based products. And it is also claimed that,when you put wine in compost, the nitrogen in the wine may also help in breakingdown carbon-based materials.

And anyone who makes their own wine can add the wasteproducts in the composting bin as well. The same is said to be true for beer,and beer-making waste products. You can also compost the cork from the winebottle.

But don’t overwhelm a small compost heap by adding gallonsof wine to it. That much alcohol could throw off the requisite balance. And toomuch alcohol might kill off all of the bacteria. In short, add a little leftoverwine to the compost heap if you like, but don’t make it a regular habit.

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Read more about Compost Ingredients

"Greens" are the nitrogen-rich additions to your compost pile. These tend to have lots of moisture, break down quickly, and provide a quick burst of heat to your pile. While we call them greens, technically any plant matter will work here: coffee grounds, for example, are brown in color, but they're rich in nitrogen, hence, they're a green for composting purposes. Here are some ideas for greens to add to your compost bin:

  1. Fruit and vegetable peels
  2. Citrus rinds
  3. Melon rinds
  4. Coffee grounds
  5. Tea leaves and paper tea bags
  6. Old vegetables that aren't suitable for eating anymore
  7. Houseplant trimmings
  8. Weeds that haven't gone to seed
  9. Grass clippings
  10. Fresh leaves
  11. Deadheads from flowers
  12. Dead plants (as long as they aren't diseased)
  13. Seaweed
  14. Cooked plain rice
  15. Cooked plain pasta
  16. Stale bread
  17. Corn husks
  18. Corn cobs
  19. Broccoli stalks
  20. Sod that you've removed to make new garden beds
  21. Thinnings from the vegetable garden
  22. Spent bulbs that you used for forcing indoors
  23. Holiday greenery from wreaths and swags (just be sure to cut the stems off of the wreath form or wires first)
  24. Old dried herbs and spices that have lost their flavor
  25. Eggshells​

What NOT to Compost And Why

  • Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests)
  • Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
  • Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests)
  • Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread)
  • Pet wastes (dog or cat feces, cat litter) (might contain parasites or germs)
  • Yard trimmings treated with pesticides (might kill composting organisms)
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (substances harmful to plants)
The Spruce / Michelle Becker

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The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Remember that most composting experts advise a balance between green waste -- watery materials like fruits and vegetables, grass clippings and weeds -- and brown waste like dried leaves, sticks, fur, cloth, cardboard, and paper.

25 Things You Should Start Adding to Your Compost Pile

Francesco Vaninetti Photo / Getty Images

If you’ve already started composting, you’ve probably got the basic idea of what goes onto the pile. You’re already dumping your peels, cores, leaves, clippings and coffee grounds. You’re already thinking about your browns and greens, gathering them from your kitchen and yard. If you want to take composting to the next level, and reduce your household waste even further, here’s a list of some less-discussed items that can also get tossed in your composting bin or tumbler.

1. Shredded newspaper
Glossy magazines don’t make for good compost, but thin printed paper can go on the pile. Help it break down faster by shredding it. According to composting guidelines from the Cornell University Waste Management Institute, most newspapers today are printed with non-toxic inks and pose no health risk.

2. Paper towels and napkins
But only if you’re cleaning up food with these items—if you’re sopping up anything that might have chemicals don’t put them in the compost to avoid any possible contamination.

3. Wine and beer
If your wine has gone vinegary or your beer has gone flat, don’t fret—just pour it onto the pile.

4. Expired spices

5. Bedding from hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs

6. Cotton and wool fabrics

7. Jam, jellies and fruit preserves

8. Used matchsticks

9. Leftover brine or canning liquid
If you’re not using those juices to cook with, you can add them to your compost bin.

10. Jell-O (gelatin)

11. Expired yeast
You might not want to risk a bad batch of bread with a packet of yeast that’s past its expiration date. But according to the composting experts over at Gardens Alive, it may still have some microorganisms that can help your compost along.

12. Dry pet food
If that old bag of cat food is hopelessly stale, or your puppy refuses to taste a new brand of kibble, you can throw dry pet food into the compost bin.

13. Bamboo skewers

14. Wooden chopsticks
They may take a long time to biodegrade, but it will eventually happen. Consider breaking them up a bit to speed the process. Although, it's better to hang onto reusable chopsticks, and ask for the disposable kind to be left out of your take-out order.

15. Wood ash

16. Tea bags

18. Hair
Yours or your pet’s.

19. Feathers

20. Nail clippings
Your pet’s or your own, as long as they’re polish-free.

21. Cotton balls

22. Tooth picks

23. Natural wine corks

24. Saw dust

25. Eggshells
I have seen several articles that recommend against composting egg shells, but I don't know why. Eggshells will break down in most compost systems. According to “Compost City” by Rebecca Louie (a great guide for beginners), you can even add them to worm bins.

Do you have any other uncommon additions to the list of compostables? Tell us in the comments!


Traditional composting advice is to have a ratio of 2 parts brown, or dry, ingredients to 1 part green, or moist, ingredients. Composting expert Barbara Pleasant, in a "Mother Earth News" article, advises against making composting too complicated. Just pile it all together and keep it moist. An easy way to add moisture is to arrange a soaker hose in a figure 8 pattern on top of the pile. As decomposition proceeds, the microbial activity can build up heat to 150 degrees Fahrenheit inside the compost pile. You can speed up decomposition in a compost pile by manually turning the pile over, getting usable compost in about three to six months rather than in two years for unturned piles.

Avoid diseased plants, persistent weeds (like dandelions and thistle), and any cooked food or meat and dairy products.

Use our helpful infographic below to make sure you’re putting the right things in the composter.

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