Guide to making affordable wines taste more expensive


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1. Decant for more delight

Important for all wine, but more sp with affordable varieties, decanting was originally used to cut down on the amount of sediment that may accumulate in the glass, and with it, the graininess that sometimes could be detected in the mouth.

In contemporary wines, the purpose of decanting is more about aeration — often referred to as “letting the wine breathe.”

Decanting stimulates the oxygenation process, which serves to both release aromatic compounds in the wine and smooth out any harsh tannins which may also be present. This is particularly important in budget wine, as these elements can be more pronounced and are sometimes accompanied by a faint, rotten-egg odour due to sulphur dioxide build-up.

Wine should, then, be poured into a decanter (any glass or ceramic container) and left for at least 10 minutes before drinking, although two hours is preferable. After decanting, wines tend to be smoother, more fragrant, and more pleasant to drink.

If you’ve only ever drunk wine immediately after opening, you’ll be delighted at the difference in taste.

Image source: Canva

2. Aerator for aromas and more

Every wine lover should own at least one aerator. This rather inexpensive wine accessory has the amazing ability to enhance the overall taste and aroma of any wine (not just the affordable ones) to a surprisingly level.

Most aerators either attach to the opening of the wine bottle or are handheld. Regardless of design, they all mix just the right amount of air into the wine as it is poured into the glass, elevating the taste in seconds. The aroma of wine also gets a lift from aeration, which is a trait found in most expensive wines.

Aerators are available in various shapes, sizes, and overall designs, each claiming to do a better job than the next, so you may want to shop around and read a few reviews before purchasing one. Below are examples of popular aerators available on Amazon.

Vacu Vin Wine Aerator

US$16 / €15 / R240

Joeji’s Kitchen Wine Aerator

US$17 / €16 / R300

OxyTwister Wine aerator

US$16 / €15 / R260

If you are in a bind or don’t have an aerator, a similar effect can be achieved by simply decanting your wine into a second container (preferably with a lid) then shaking for 15 to 20 seconds. The wine’s oxygenation will be rapid, so you can get on with enjoying your wine that much sooner.

Some experts frown on this technique, stating that the wine’s delicate composition is somehow damaged in the process. Although this may be true for a more costly, intricately flavoured bottle, this is not as much of a factor in cheaper, but still perfectly enjoyable, everyday wines.

5. Chill for more thrill

Image source: Midjourney V6

The temperature at which wine is served is important to the way it tastes, perhaps more so than any other factor, and this is especially true in less expensive wine. The most important thing to remember is to serve cooler than you might think. This is because a lower temperature will soften any harsh tannins which may be present in red wine, and also lessen the sharp acidity in white.

As a rule, white wine should be served served fridge-cold, between 8°C and 12°C , while sparking wine will taste at its best a little colder, somewhere between 4°C and 8°C . A lighter red, such as a pinot noir or a zinfandel, will taste great at about 14°C to 18°C;  a rich, full-bodied red, such as a shiraz or a chianti, is at its best served between 18°C to 22°C.

Try putting red wines in the fridge up to 15 minutes before serving to achieve the desired temperature (or in the freezer in the case of sparkling), and don’t be afraid to experiment, especially with inexpensive wines. Over-chilling that cheaper cabernet sauvignon may be the difference between an unpleasantly tannin-rich drink, and a smooth, perfectly palatable one.

The next time you encounter a wine that tastes every bit as cheap as its price tag suggests, don’t just throw it down the sink. If you give these simple guidelines a try, you may just be surprised by how much your affordable wine can be transformed.


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Best Guide Inc. Staff Writer

The staff writers at Best Guide Inc. are passionate about sharing their experiences, knowledge, and research. You can visit their website or follow them on their socials.


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