Cheap wine is more than just a beverage for me — it's a food group. I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't know enough about wine (or have a sophisticated enough palate) to taste the difference between the cheap and the expensive stuff. I'm also not rich, so $10 and under it is. The only problem with this lifestyle choice is that cheap wine can sometimes taste — well, cheap. But not anymore. There's a super simple life hack to make cheap wine taste better, and it doesn't involve any fancy gadgets or specialized equipment, but one simple ingredient you undoubtedly have in your kitchen already.
This potentially life-changing hack comes from former Microsoft executive-turned-cookbook-author Nathan Myhrvold, who recalls he heard one of his dinner party guests complain that his wine was too sweet (how rude). Instead of calling the guest out for poor party etiquette, however, Myhrvold took a pinch of salt and added it to his Cabernet. Soon, everyone started copying him left and right. So this hack doesn't really come from science, but rather, anecdotal evidence, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt. Sorry, I had to. I personally don't drink red wine, and I have never once in my life complained about my wine being too sweet (see: cheap wine), so this is a life hack I will probably not get to use. But if you don't like your red wine tasting too sugary, you might want to consider adding a pinch of salt.
But if, like me, you can't see yourself ever adding salt to your wine, here are some other wine hacks you might want to try.
1. Chill It
The beauty about white wine is that it's already served chilled, so an easy way to make it taste better is to just chill it even further. LA Weekly reported that chilling wine to the point that it's almost frozen makes it harder for the wine to release its aromas. And, much like when you would pinch your nose before taking medicine, if the wine doesn't smell strong, it won't taste as strong either.
2. Blend It
This trick works especially for red wine. Basically, the idea is that aerating the wine allows oxygen to get in, which in turns helps settle some of the more unpleasant qualities. This is called the decanting process, and putting the wine in a blender for a few seconds just accelerates the process.
3. Mull It
I would only recommend doing this during the winter months, because hot wine on a summer day sounds terrible. But mulling wine is easy — you just heat it up gently with some spices and sugar thrown in. I mean, it's a little more measured than just throwing stuff in a pot, but that's the basic idea.
4. Dilute It
You might already add an ice cube or a splash of water to your wine if the flavor is a little too strong — but even though diluting wine with water might blunt its taste, it may have the opposite affect on its smell. That's because, in short, aroma molecules are more chemically similar to alcohol molecules than water molecules. All this means the aroma molecules cling to the alcohol and also evaporate quickly out of drinks with less alcohol to cling to. So when you dilute a drink, there's less alcohol for the aroma molecules to grab onto, and they evaporate out of the drink and into your nostrils. The more you know.
5. Sangria It
Okay so I know "to sangria" is not actually a verb, but I wanted to continue with my structure. It might be a bit of a cop-out, but I don't think there's any wine that doesn't automatically taste better with some fruit, brandy, and club soda thrown in. It's just a fact.
With so many hacks, there's basically no reason to ever buy expensive wine — that is, unless you're classy and it's your thing. If that's the case, more power to you. I'll be over here with my $8 bottle of Vinho Verde, though.