Not that there's anything wrong with Two-Buck Chuck, but... 

By Maki Yazawa
Updated December 06, 2019
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Credit: traderjoes.com

No need to run to the store to purchase an expensive bottle of wine that may be out of your budget. Instead, transform your stash of affordable bottles you already have at home into great-tasting wines you’ll be excited to imbibe. Here are five genius tips to salvage an inexpensive bottle of wine that’ll impress your guests. (That is, of course, if they’re not a professional sommelier.)

1

Have you ever seen someone take their wine glass by the stem and vigorously swirl it around? They are performing a process called “aeration,” which triggers oxidation and evaporation in the wine. This is important, especially when it comes to a cheaper, younger wine as it can be an essential step in reducing the bitterness and acidity of an inexpensive bottle. Oxidation and evaporation are key to removing unwanted flavors of the byproducts from the winemaking process such as ethanol (the alcohol) and sulfites, that are added to preserve wine. Exposing wine to oxygen by way of a decanter or swirling your glass will accelerate the aeration process, bringing out the palatable aromas and flavors while reducing any foul, pungent acidity.

2

The best way to possibly mask the harsh flavors of an inexpensive wine is to serve it very cold. Traditionally, white wines should be served between 48 to 52 degrees, sparkling 50 to 55 degrees, red 60 to 68 degrees. However, chilling your wine to the lower 50s and upper 40s may significantly help mitigate any tangy burn on your palate from a more affordable bottle. Two great methods to quickly chill your bottle are to wrap it with a wet kitchen towel and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes or fill a large bucket with ice, water, and salt and let your bottle sit for about 30 minutes.

RELATED: The Best Way to Chill Wine, According to Science

3

If you tried chilling and aerating your inexpensive wine bottle and still have no luck, you may want to try adding some citrus into the mix. Adding a squeeze of lemon may help to balance the acidity in a flat wine or simply slice some oranges, lemons and apples, and whip up a low-lift, yet equally impressive pitcher of sangria. Make sure to incorporate some juice from your fruit in the wine and if that still isn’t cutting it, throw in a splash of brandy.

4

Who doesn’t love a crisp and refreshing bubbly drink? Try mixing your inexpensive bottle of wine with carbonated drinks like flavored sparkling water or citrus flavored sodas to transform your bad wine into a delicate spritz. The carbonated drink helps mask and dilute any sharp flavors in the wine while the bubbles create a satisfying, tingly sensation on your tongue.

5

If all else fails and your wine is simply unappetizing on its own, reserve it for cooking instead. You can use your bad wine to make a great bolognese, wine-infused brownies or a pan-seared steak with a red wine reduction that will be infinitely tastier than if you were to have it on its own.

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