How to turn cheap wine into great wine
I'll let you in on a secret. I've been able to turn cheap wine ($15 and less) wine into great wine, by following advice that everyone knows, but few take to heart. - Wine gets better with age.
By knowing a few simple things about wine, you can build a cellar that will impress. Here's how.
1. Make a commitment to save wine. The most difficult thing to do, is to buy wine and not drink it. I suggest this tip, store wine in your basement or an inconvenient location. Consider keeping some wine for drinking in another location, this way you won't be tempted to grab one of the bottles you're aging. Ideally your storage area should not receive a lot of sunlight. If you want to get real serious a $200-$300 will get you a 50 bottle wine fridge.
2. Buy wine on days you're not going to drink it. Again break the habit to drink it immediately. I recommend buying multiple bottles that way you can keep one out for drinking if you have the urge.
3. Know which wines age best. Most of them are red wines. Think Cabs and Pinot Noirs from California, French and Italian Reds, Cabs & Malbecs from South America as a starting point. The more tannins, the better and smoother it will become with aging.
4. Buy the best vintages. This is the big secret, and here's the easy way to do this. Use a vintage chart, I like the mobile app vintage chart from Wine Spectator. Look for regional years rated 90 and above, these are some recent vintages to look for.
Argentina - 2011
Australia - 2012 (most shiraz)
French - Bordeaux - 2009, 2010; Burgundy – 2009; Rhone – 2010
Italy - Tuscany – 2011
Spain – 2010
California - Napa - 2010, 2009 (Cabs)
Oregon - 2010
5. Don't buy the brand names, If you've heard of it before, I would typically stay away. The key to this is go to a large store, they'll have more selection, and hopefully more sales.
6. Wait till the wine is at least 5 years old. Considering the wine you buy is typically 2-3 years old already, this means storing it for another 3+ years.
If you follow these simple steps you'll be enjoying great wine for years to come.