Drinking wine is one of my favorite hobbies. I used to be more of a beer girl, but it turns out that I prefer my beer on tap, especially in Prague, Czech Republic. So the quarantine threw me through a bit of a ringer until I decided to find a wine I loved. What started with love for Apothic Red quickly turned into a full-blown hobby.
You can enjoy fermented grape juice without any extras. All you really need is a bottle, a way to open said bottle and taste buds to enjoy it with. I have enjoyed drinking cheap brands out of $1 glasses from the Dollar Tree for years. Having more expensive glasses won’t necessarily enhance your experience, but as my passion for wine grew, I decided to take things up a notch. The following products enhanced my personal wine drinking experience.
1. Wine Class
Okay. So the first thing I bought when I got into wine wasn’t a tangible product. It was a wine course through Udemy. Every few weeks, Udemy offers sales on their classes. I recommend signing up for their newsletter to see when these classes are on sale. I bought two of the classes and have completed one so far. Even though I’m only starting on the second, I can already see that it’s very different and I’m glad I decided to get both:
Wine: Everything You Want to Know, Taught by a Winemaker
I paid $12.83 for this course which normally costs $49.99.
Mastering wine – Jancis Robinson’s Shortcuts to Success
I paid $14.97 for this course which normally costs $109.99.
There are other wine courses on Udemy too! Each focuses on slightly different topics such tasting, the entire process of making it, and understanding labels.
Taking this class gave me a greater appreciation for this unique beverage. The course also had a large section on how to properly taste wine which was really interesting for me. Finally, it was this course that convinced me to stop putting reds in the fridge. Part of me still prefers it chilled but it kills the flavor, which is a big no-no!
I did promise to give you tips on cheap ways to learn about the miracle that is fermented grape juice! Although these courses are cheap, there are free ones out there on YouTube. Check out this link for a comprehensive article on courses and tasting events that you can enjoy for free! Like this one:
One thing that both of my wine classes were crystal clear about was that, in order to learn more about wine, you need to taste a lot of wines. Some people prefer to browse the shelves of a store, but I am terrible at picking good wines. That is why I prefer to get wine picked for me and delivered to my door. For those of you living in the United States, I highly recommend Splash Wines!
Splash Wines has great deals on bundles of wine. You can get a pack of 15 bottles for just $109. You can get all red, all white, mixed packs and higher end wines if you’re not into the cheap stuff. It is almost always cheaper to join a wine club than it is to buy wine in the store – this is another thing that my wine course explored.
What I love about Splash Wines is that they give you a great variety, although sometimes there may be repeats. I didn’t love every wine I got from them but most were amazing and the others were just okay. There was nothing that I hated.
Why do fancy winos swirl and slurp during tastings? Because they are pretentious? Well, maybe… but wine actually does taste better when it’s been exposed to air. If I ever uncork a bottle that I don’t love, I will let it sit open overnight before giving it a second chance. It always tastes better the next day!
“If you enjoy red wine or drink more affordable wine on a regular basis, then using a decanter is a great idea. Decanting may not look like much, but the increased oxygen exposure to wine greatly improves the taste by softening astringent tannins and letting fruit and floral aromas come out.”Wine Folly
I bought the cheapest possible decanter I could find on Amazon and I love it. It costs $19 and it is hand blown crystal glass!
It’s affordable, looks fancy and makes every glass more delicious! But apparently not every decanter is made equal.
Wine Folly, which I will tell you more about later, advises the following. Since my favorites are full bodied reds, I have the exact right decanter for my needs. Phew!
As I have just discussed, air = better taste! So naturally, we want to introduce an aerator to our wine routines. There are so many different kinds, but I prefer to keep things simple. I have this $14 one that you insert into the bottle and simply pour.
“A wine aerator is a device that exposes wine to more air than it would otherwise be exposed to through the normal process of opening a wine bottle, pouring a standard wine pour, and letting it breath. … But a wine aerator makes the process of aeration instantaneous.”Bin Wise
Wait a minute… you rant about how air makes wine taste better and now you’re telling me to put a cork in it? Well yes. I am. Air is great but dead flies are not. Plus, when you’re tasting several wines, you might not necessarily be ready for a binger. You simply need a good wine stopper in life!
This $8 set of 5 stoppers was the solution to my problems. I tried a more expensive pump that was supposed to keep even champagne sparkling over night. Unfortunately, this stopper fell flat, pun intended… These simple, cheap stoppers were much more effective and I love that the colors let me organize the wine by date opened or by personal preference. Plus, they are pretty!
We already know that red wines should not be served chilled because they taste better at room temperature. But sparkling and white wines do taste better right out of the fridge. Call me spoiled, but I don’t enjoy running back and forth if I’m trying to relax with some bubbly in my backyard.
That’s where the wine bucket comes in! There are many different kinds and they basically function like a cooler, only less effective long-term. You can totally use a regular camping cooler to keep your wines nice and chill, but it only costs $16 to fancy it up a bit. This stainless steel bucket is sleek, classic and effective. Reviewers complain that the handles are cheap, but I haven’t had any issues yet. Plus, you get what you pay for and this is the cheap guide to upping your wine game – so bear with me here.
I love to drink wine out of proper wine glasses with stems. Even though I have created my own stemless wine glass in a glass-blowing class, I reserve that for liquor. Until recently, I used $1 glasses from the Dollar Tree for a few reasons. First of all, I didn’t care about it being fancy. Second of all, my husband is a klutz and breaks glasses on an almost daily basis.
Finally, I caved and decided to get something a little nicer. I still wasn’t willing to pay a ridiculous amount for a glass. Especially one that is likely to have a have a short lifespan due to the old ball-and-chain (more like wrecking ball) *glares at husband.* So I searched until I found the cheapest possible glasses on Amazon. Don’t forget to check if they have used versions! In my case, two of three types of glasses came used, which saved me a significant amount of money.
But first, let me show you this great chart from Wine Folly. You can’t be a fancy wine drinker if you don’t use the right kind of wine glass.
And according to the chart above, I am using a wine glass meant for light-bodied reds for my full-bodied reds. WHOOPS. I’m still learning myself!
These are the red wine glasses that I love to use for all sorts of red wines (sorry Wine Folly.) One day I will get fancier and buy more varieties, but for now, these serve me well. They are huge, sleek-looking and delicate enough to make me feel like royalty while drinking out of them. It also only costs $23 for a pack of four. I actually got them for $17 because there was a used version.
The reviews for these are great but people do argue that they are not unbreakable. Obviously, if you drop a dainty piece of glass, it will likely shatter. So far, ours haven’t been dropped and they have survived an entire month! This is significant in our household because if it’s not my husband, it’s our dogs that cause the breakage.
These white wine glasses are a little pricier than the red, but they are still a great deal at $25 for four. Once again, I snagged these for a little less because I’m thrifty AF. Used items aren’t only cheaper, they are also greener because protecting the environment requires reducing and reusing before recycling – I go on and on about that in this article if you are curious.
Once again, these claim to be more shatter-proof than regular glasses. I don’t believe that for a second because they are so delicate. I have also not tested dropping them yet… Also, despite being called white wine glasses, the photos show them being used for red. Again, if you look at the Wine Folly chart, these are good for full-bodied red wines. I’ll try to switch but I do love my giant red wine glasses that feel a little higher end than these.
“Champagne is a bubbly white wine that people often drink to celebrate happy occasions. When you pull the cork out of a bottle of champagne, it makes a loud pop. … The word champagne is short for vin de Champagne, “wine made in Champagne.””Vocabulary.com
I had a harder time finding affordable stemmed sparkling wine glasses than regular white or red. Why? Maybe because of marketing and the whole notion that bubbly wine is classier? I’m just speculating here. Also, to my frustration, other affordable options were all stemless glasses, which I am not a fan of.
Finally, I found this pack of four for just $22. While I absolutely adore how they look, I don’t like the way they feel. They are supposedly reinforced to make them less likely to break. Yes, we’ve heard that one before. In this case, I believe it because the glass feels more like plastic.
When they are empty, they clink like glass but as soon as they are full, they do not. It drives me crazy that they don’t clink when I toast with them. But hey, if it extends their lifetime, I’ll put up with it. I had a hilarious drunken conversation with the notorious glass breaker trying to determine if they are in fact glass. No glasses were harmed in this tipsy discussion. So add conversation-starter to the pros with these.
8. Cheese Board
Last but not least, a cheese board will complete your transformation from wine noob to someone who looks like a connoisseur even if they are not (like me). Cheese boards are surprisingly expensive but if you use them enough, they are worth it. They are also great for parties because they are convenient and cute.
Since this article is about saving money, I’ll suggest this $20 board for you. It is cute, as cheap as it gets, and it has perfect reviews.
I do have a different board that I found used for less than $20. At full price, it costs $25. I really love its simple design and the additional cheese knives. It is really heavy and high quality – plus it has great reviews!
Here’s what it looks like when regular people use it. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, check out this article on some amazing vegan cheeses. Miyoko’s cheese wheels look amazing on this board.
9. Wine Folly
There are so many books about wine. I myself have quite a few on my bookshelf. Did I mention that I was a bookworm? You can read my book reviews here. Anyway! If you want explore this topic further, get the Wine Folly book. Also, subscribe to their website for free. They are wine experts and they will turn you into one too with their simple info. The Wine Folly book isn’t the cheapest at $20, but it’s worth it. The illustrations are amazing and I honestly couldn’t rave about it more.
I am obsessed with weird jewelry, so I started my own Etsy store, Everyfelt. There is a great selection of wine-themed earrings and jewelry that I personally love to wear while drinking! If you use the code WINE30 you can get 30% off these $8.99 earrings as a thank you for reading my article and being a fellow connoisseur.
Buy them here:
There are other great earrings on Everyfelt too.
Follow The Travel Bug Bite for more great content and find more posts on this juicy topic here:
- Apothic Red Blend: My Favorite Wine
- Splash Wines: 15 Bottles, $6.99 Each, Free Delivery
- Online Wine Tasting: Youth Time Magazine
- Udemy Online Courses: Everything You Want to Know About Wine
- Leyden Farm Vineyard & Winery: Review
- Drizly Review: Alcohol Deliveries within the Hour
- FitVine: Healthier Wine with Less Sugar