Last night I was making pot roast, and as it came time to deglaze, I uncorked some cabernet and went to town, not really thinking at all about what I was doing. All of a sudden, instead of that delicious waft of vino I was expecting, I smelled this horrible, plasticky terribleness! BAD WINE! OMG, what to do... So, it got me thinking about simple kitchen corrections you can make with ingredients you probably have in your pantry - for when your fabulous concoction is - well, just not so fabulous (and you can't bear the thought of starting all over again).
Bad Wine? Add a cup or so of water or chicken stock and let it cook off for a few minutes. Then, cut your losses, add some better wine, and pour yourself a glass to celebrate your perseverance :)
Too Salty? Add a peeled potato! It soaks up the salt and maybe thickens your beautiful dish a little also. If you're out of potatoes (or you think a potato just doesn't make sense with what you're making), try a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in a few table spoons of water. Or, if it's appropriate, you can always add a little milk or cream to settle that salty flavor down a bit.
Too Spicy? Add some honey. A tablespoon should do it, depending on how many habaneros you accidentally added, thinking they were just cute little peppers (this happened to me once when I made chili for a SuperBowl party a couple of years ago, and I've been scarred ever since!)
Too Sweet? Adding salt is the obvious answer here, but I've also found that lemon juice will do the trick pretty well, again depending on what it is you're making. You can also add more wine/chicken stock, or just a bit more of whatever savory ingredients you might be using (mushrooms and tomato paste are two of my go-to moves).
Too Vinegary? Some honey or sugar should do the trick. Just add your corrector in small increments, lest you inadvertently fall into the 'too sweet' category.
The moral of the story is do not be discouraged! You've worked so hard on that beef stew it would be a shame to toss it in the trash simply because of one heavy handed pour of vinegar. With a quick fix like one of the above, promise promise promise your guests will never know the difference!