One of the most exciting purchases we made for our home was a small wine fridge. While it's not a must-have appliance, it's pretty exciting to know that those nice bottles of wine my parents gave me will be waiting in a temperature controlled environment, until I'm able to drink again. Half of the bottles are for special occasions, but the other half of the fridge is stocked with cheapie wines for weeknight dinners. In an effort to make those bottles taste great, I asked Faith & Flower's celebrated Sommelier, Jared Hooper, to give me his quick tips on how to make a $10 bottle taste amazing.
1. Decant, even if you don't have a decanter. "I’m a freak for decanting. I think most wines open up and show their charm from some time in a decanter, but if you don't have one, any old pitcher will do. Half the fun is going back to the wine after a couple of hours to see if it's changed (it's kind of like checking a Polaroid picture to see if it's developed). Everything is better with a little bit of air. The exception to this rule: Don't decant old and delicate wines because if you give them air, they can go over the hill too fast. You're giving a wine oxygen, so it's the same concept as leaving a half-eaten apple on the table."
2. Find the right help. "I firmly believe in finding the right help. A wine shop that you have a good rapport with will help you to find the right thing. There are people who run and work in shops that really care about what they do. If you have a relationship with them, you'll begin to develop your special language. Wine doesn't have to be expensive to be good, so they'll learn what you like, and keep you in mind when they taste a new batch."
3. Look for a specific region. "My current favorite region that is over-delivering for the price is Beaujolais Cru. I have many of these wines on my list that outdrink other wines at three times the cost."
4. Chill your wine. "Chill down the bottles, yes, even reds."
5. The occasion speaks to your wine. "If you're having an easy-going pizza night with wine, and the Dodgers just won, then the wine is going to taste fantastic. So, an inexpensive bottle can work wonders depending on the scenario. Don't be scared to purchase an inexpensive bottle for a low-key event."
6. Find the flavor you love. "The most important lesson to internalize, is that YOU have the most important palate in the world, you are the one tasting. Trust yourself, but never be afraid to open up to new tastes!"