Five Amazing Hacks For That Crappy Wine You Just Bought

Look, it happens to all of us: you find this wine for under ten bucks that looks like it may be a killer bargain, and when you pop that cork you discover you just made an investment in grape-flavored ass juice. No judgment here. Trader Joes’ wine section doesn’t come with a warning sign above the aisle reading, “Some Of This Stuff Is Gonna Suck Beyond Comprehension.” You roll the dice, you move your mice. Let’s get into how to make that cheap wine taste better.

man spitting out cheap wine because it tastes like crap
This is one way to aerate wine. They teach this method in Sommelier School.

You want that cheap wine to taste better

“But what about my buzz,” you ask? “How am I supposed to cast a warm, Kodachrome haze on my bitter existence when my wine is like a dose of Ipecac?” Well, that’s why you subscribe to my blog. And if you don’t yet, a super-annoying pop-up should appear any moment now, imploring you to do so.

Here then are Five Amazing Hacks For That Crappy Wine You Just Bought:

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture. 

I constantly get lured in by this bargain Bordeaux they sell at Costco. This bile is like 19th growth or something, and takes the signature barnyard funk of great Bordeaux and reduces it to straight pig shit. So, here’s what you do: pour out about two ounces, put the cork back in, and shake the crap outta that bottle. Literally. Like you’re making a martini. This is sometimes known as “hyperdecanting” and is said to be able to age your wine five years in twenty seconds. This aging helps to balance the wine, ostensibly reducing any repulsive flavors or aromas that really stick out. How does it work? Because science.

Let it go! Let it gooooo!

Pour out a few ounces, put the cork back in, and leave the bottle on the countertop for three days. Unlike Hyperdecanting, which imitates aging, this method slowly burns off some of the alcohol. I like to view alcohol as a “flavor carrier.” It’s the fat on a rib eye steak, if you will. If you reduce the alcohol, you can reduce the wine from a 10 to about a 7 on the Robert Mondavi Fermentation/Abomination Scale.*

Ice Ice Baby – Cheap Wine Hack #3

The colder a wine’s temperature, the more everything potentially horrible about it becomes masked: aroma, flavor, acid and alcohol all lose their potency as a wine dips below fifty degrees. Ice has the advantage of not only cooling but melting, thereby diluting your atrocious vintage. I particularly like ice in crappy sparkling wine, because the water helps to mitigate the inevitable headache. However, if you don’t like water in your wine, simply stick the bottle in the freezer for as long as it will go without freezing/exploding.

picture of a woman pouring wine into a glass
I once stopped dating a girl because she put ice in her Chardonnay. These days, you’re pretty much the perfect woman if you simply promise not to murder me in my sleep.

Tiny Bubbles Make Cheap Wine Taste Better

This is hack number four and five, actually. It’s good to have on hand some sparkling water or sparkling wine, and preferably both. Sparkling water is especially good to dilute red wines, particularly if you don’t like your reds cold and therefore don’t want to use the ice hack. If you like to get wacky, you can try flavored sparkling water, which comes in both sweet and not-sweet varieties depending on your preference. Same goes for sparkling wine. Combining your red or white with a sparkler helps mask the taste of both, and creates something akin to a Sangria de Basura Blanca. And again, you can adjust the sweetness by using a brut sparkler or a Moscato.

I always like to hear about your wine hacks, so if you’ve got any to share, feel free to email me at or leave a comment below!

*This scale does not exist. 

13 thoughts on “Five Amazing Hacks For That Crappy Wine You Just Bought”

  1. Great post. One more hack: make “Sangria”. Adding triple sec, orange juice, lemon mixer, and brandy or rum to a disappointing wine will mask any flaws and “cast a warm, Kodachrome haze on my bitter existence” too.

  2. Great article. I’m going to repost.
    Aside from pouring it down the sink and surfing Pinterest for bottle art ideas, you could cook with it.

  3. Fish Out Of Malbec

    I second the Sangria suggestion – alliteration unintended. But, I have an even simpler recipe if that’s helpful. Friends rave about it and it’s probably the only reason why I’m still invited to parties. Cheap bottle of red (a liter or more, if possible) + 1/2 bottle of Sprite, 7Up or Sierra Mist + 1 or 2 bags of frozen mixed berries and frozen peaches, and if you’re feeling fancy, 1 cut up navel orange. The fruit defrosts, acting like ice without watering it down, and absorbs the wine in the process. No other spirits needed and super refreshing! Also, probably less strong…

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