Rescuing A Bad Wine On Short Notice

When bad wine happens to good dinners

You’ve doted over the yeast, you’ve clarified and stabilized your wine, you’ve set it aside to age, and now you pop the cork. It looks great – nice and clear with great legs (we’re still talking about the wine) as you swirl it around in your glass. Maybe you can’t identify all the notes, floral? citrus?, but it smells wonderful. Next you take a sip, it’s only been a moment but it seems you’ve been anticipating it for hours, and … yuck! It can’t be. All that time and effort to make (or all that money to buy) a wine that can’t stand up to 2-buck Chuck?

So you take another sip. Well given some more aging, that bitterness might soften. And that tartness will mellow out. And while we’re at it, maybe that … that bizarre flavor will go away too. Wines that age well are often unpalatable when young, so it just might. I’ve seen huge changes, usually for the better, in the course of a year. But what do you do right now? You’ve just sat down to dinner and you’ve got this open bottle of wild plum (at least you’re hoping that fruit you picked were wild plums) wine in front of you.

Is there any way to save a bad wine?

Before you pour the bottle down the drain, and grab another you might try aerating and/or sweetening. You’ve heard that some wines need to breath? I remember chatting with a gentleman at a wine tasting who tames ruffian wines by putting them through the blender. I didn’t do that when my 2006 Apple wine proved too harsh, but a little sugar did wonders for it. I started out by dissolving 0.5 tsp sugar in a wine glass. Marsha and I noticed an immediate improvement, but we still weren’t happy with it. It turns out that 1 tsp per glass was about right. It saved the wine and it saved the dinner.

I’m not going to tell you it works every time, but it’s worth a try.

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