If you want to drink great wine, you have two choices.
You can either buy better wine, or figure out how to get more from the bottles you already plan to buy.
Jörn Kleinhans, owner of Wine Elite Sommelier Co., explains that getting more from the wine currently in your rack, cellar, or shopping cart relies heavily on the tools you use before you even take a sip.
“Even sommeliers sometimes want to get the most mileage out of a dollar,” Kleinhans explains. “These are their secrets.”
(To go the buy-better-wine route, see his recommendations for high-quality wine at any price point.)
It’s worth noting, however, that while these strategies are meant to maximise the quality of the wine you enjoy, some of them will require a little more money upfront.
1. Buy better glassware.
Kleinhans says the variety of wine glasses on the market isn’t born of fussiness. “If you enjoy quality wine, you upgrade your quality of glasses,” he declares. “You buy thin crystal glasses priced at about $US30 apiece. Riedel glasses are the world standard.”
He recounts an experiment held recently among his company’s sommeliers where they served a single wine in seven different glasses at different price ranges, and conducted a blind taste test during which the sommeliers weren’t even allowed to lift their own glasses. “They were able to create a clear hierarchy,” he recalls. “High quality glassware is the best way to increase the perception of good wine — it can make a $US30 bottle feel like a $US60 bottle.”
2. Embrace the half bottle.
While this might not be an option when bringing a gift to your friend’s dinner party, if you’re drinking at home, the half bottle is your friend. “It’s unfortunately true that a bottle doesn’t carry overnight,” Kleinhans says. “If you leave it open, even if you try to vacuum out the air, it won’t be good the next day.”
“You don’t see them often in the store, but high-end wine merchants have a special shelf with half bottles,” he continues. “It’s a smaller selection, but it’s usually sufficient.”
3. Invest in a Coravin Wine Access System.
There is one way to keep an open bottle of wine from spoiling, and it’s a tool that costs about $US300. “For many years, wine collectors have been frustrated when they have a bottle and drink by themselves,” Kleinhans explains. “They wanted to find a way to close again and preserve it.”
That way is a gadget called Coravin, which inserts a needle through the cork without taking it out of the bottle and pressurizes the bottle using argon — a tasteless gas — as you pour. The cork reseals itself once you withdraw the needle (but works best with natural, rather than synthetic corks). “You can put back in your cellar for years to come,” says Kleinhans. “That’s one way to enjoy a bottle without opening and losing a full bottle if you only wanted a glass.”