If you don’t have much to spend on a bottle of wine, that doesn’t mean it can’t be an enjoyable experience. Follow these few easy tips to maximise your pleasure without breaking your budget.
1. Choose wisely
Don’t just grab the first Pinot Grigio you see! If you’ve only got the bobs for one bottle, give it a bit of thought. What’s the weather like? What are you having for dinner later? What are you in the mood for?
2. All white, all white, all white
If you drink white, you’re in luck. Red wines often spend years aging in oak barrels, and the cost of this time spent in the cellar is passed on to the consumer. Because many white wines — especially fresh, light styles — need much less time to get from grape to glass, you’re much more likely to find a quality white wine for under €10.
3. Think outside the box
The most famous wine-producing countries — such as France and Italy — carry more prestige (and therefore a higher price point) than less-lauded others that produce plenty of high-quality wines, including Portugal, Lebanon and Romania. Do a little research, be bold and experiment, and you may well end up with a gem.
4. Step away from the Merlot
Looking to lesser known wine regions and grapes may get you better bang for your buck. Grapes like Carménère, Primitivo, Albariño or Nero d’Avola are less popular than the Syrahs and Sauvignon Blancs of the world, so a bottle of the same price bracket will often be of better quality.
5. Serve it up right
In general, we all know that red wine is best at room temperature, while whites and rosés are better served chilled. However, this isn’t precisely true, especially since “room temperature,” varies widely amongst times of year, types of weather, regions and homes. For the fullest flavour, try removing white wines from the fridge five minutes before serving, and consider cooling red wines in the fridge — especially lighter reds — for a few minutes, too.
6. Let it breathe, baby
Younger red wines — like those you’ll find on a budget — will benefit from aeration. This term simply means letting some oxygen into your wine, which helps to bring out more of its aromas and flavours. If you’re drinking red, open your bottle ahead of time and pour it into a decanter (or a large jug, pitcher or even a vase — you’ll find no judgement here!). Give it around an hour before you get stuck in; if flies are an issue as we come into the summer, cover the top with something breathable like a clean cloth or tea towel. While it’s mostly young red wines that will benefit from this process, many whites will also improve with 10-15 minutes breathing time.
7. Drink it mindfully
Whether you enjoy your first glass while you’re cooking, you wait until you’re sitting down to dinner or you’re simply savouring it in the sunshine, make sure you pay attention, as least to your first few sips. Notice how it feels in your mouth, any flavours or aromas you can identify, how it works with your food. Taking the time to appreciate each mouthful lends unexpected extra pleasure to any glass of wine.