How to Make a Bargain Bottle of Wine Taste More Expensive

A blender can help age wine.

ByABC News
March 17, 2015, 10:19 AM

— -- The holy grail of wine is getting a bargain bottle to taste like an expensive one. But can that really be done with a blender. Yeah, like a make-a-smoothie, whirring-blades kind of blender. It’s called hyperdecanting and it has wine lovers frothing.

Enthusiasts of blender-based wine decanting put red wine in the blender with the idea that the process ages it five years in 30 seconds. Some say that by exposing young wine to so much air it can quickly soften tannins.

Marcy Roth is the owner of Bacchus and Venus wines in Sausalito, California, and she explains the basic concept around standard decanting.

"Decanting was traditionally done to separate the settlements from the wine so you wouldn't end up with hunks of grape skin in your glass or your teeth," Roth said. "It also opens up the wine and aerates it, allowing more of the flavor and aromas to come forth and to show their most finessed polish side."

But even Roth is a little weirded out by this grape-slushie approach, saying, “I think there's a lot of wine makers we know here in California who would be pretty horrified to know we put their wine in a blender."

The practice has gained some traction, so we thought we’d put it to a blind taste test.

I take an $89 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and then two bottles of $7 wine. I have three glasses. One gets the $89, the other the $7 straight from the bottle and the third gets the same $7 brand, but with this bottle I put it in the blender for 30 seconds and then pour it back in the bottle to not give it away.

We had some novices, some moderately sophisticated wine drinkers and some true oenophiles to test the wine.

Our two experts picked the $89 dollar bottle straight away and liked the blended wine the least.

Our two novices liked the blended $7 wine best and the $89 dollar bottle least.

But the rest of our testers were more consistent. The general trend was that they liked the $89 bottle best, but the interesting result was the race for second place. The blended $7 wine consistently ranked over the same wine poured straight from the bottle.

When I asked one woman how she would describe the difference between the hyper-aerated wine and the straight from the bottle wine she said, “It was a little smoother, nice on the palette.”

Another said the blended one tasted, "A little bit more complex. I felt like it was a little more peppery."

So while our unscientific test seems to indicate you can’t blend your way to top-shelf vino, it’s possible you can make your budget bottle taste a little better.