Argentine Wine Hack: Make Bad Wine Better

Photo: Barnaby

While traveling in Argentina for 3 months, I visited Rosario, an off-the-tourist-path but major metropolitan city. Rosario was beautiful — on the river, large parks, pretty buildings, amazingly friendly people. In some ways it offered a better glimpse of Argentine city life than Buenos Aires. (See also: Live Like a Local: How to Tap Into the Local Scene While Traveling)

At lunch on my first day in Rosario I ordered from the menu of the day. For $5 U.S. I could enjoy an appetizer, entree, dessert, and wine or soda.

Given that it was lunch time and I was sill unsure of Argentine customs, I looked around the dining room to see what everyone else was drinking.  They all had half liter carafes of house wine.  So I ordered wine.

But, I noticed that everyone also had something else on their table.

Soda water.  In a fancy soda siphon.

When my carafe of wine was served, soda water came with it.

I carefully glanced around the room to see what others were doing with their soda water. They were putting ice in a wine glass, adding soda water, and mixing in red wine.  Following their lead, I mixed my wine with soda water.

On the blistering hot day, the homemade wine spritzer was extremely refreshing. But, the soda water wine mixture had plenty of other benefits. The otherwise mediocre house wine had some spunk to it. And the biggest benefit was that the wine lasted longer than it otherwise would have because of the extra liquid. Presumably this also prevents you from getting drunk at the important business lunches many Argentinians were at.

This summer if you open a bottle of wine — red or white — that just isn't all that great, add some soda water to it. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Argentine Wine Hack: Make Bad Wine Better

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Myscha Theriault's picture

I love wine spritzers! Good one, Elizabeth. Seltzer really spritzes up a fair number of things, but it really takes cheaper wine to the next level. In fact, guess what I'm drinking right now? Good to hear you had a blast in South America.

Guest's picture

Can you give some guidance on the right mix of wine and soda water?

Guest's picture

Although I have not yet found a wine I don't like, I will use this trick to water it down a little and freshen up a drink on a hot day. Thanks!

Guest's picture

My father in law used to make his own wine. He received a soda bottle for Christmas one year, and it wasn't long until someone started putting his wine in the bottle. Everyone loved it, but you had to be careful not to drink too much.

Elizabeth Lang's picture

I would mix to your taste preferences.  For me, I usually go with somewhere between 1/4-1/2 soda (so 3/4-1/2 wine).  You don't want it to be too watery -- and remember if you're adding ice it will get more watery.

Guest's picture

I'm an adventurous wine drinker. I try new brands, and often times I grab the 2 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's or the discontinued bin at Publix or Kroger. Sometimes I win. Sometimes it's less than amazing wine. I have a feeling this tip will be implemented in my near future.

Guest's picture

I am surprised Tim Ferriss hasn't written about this. he loves Argentina and loves wine. Something to think about and thanks for sharing!

Guest's picture

Hi from Buenos Aires,Elizabeth!

What you say about house wine is true, but you're showing an expensive bottle of Luigi Bosca, an excellent argentine wine (together with the club soda siphon) to illustrate the article.
House wines usually come in a 5 or 10-liter demijohn (before being laid to rest on a glass carafe)
Hope you had a chance to try the Luigi Bosca!
Another tip for a cheap white wine:add cassis liqueur and ice, and you've got
yourself a decent kir (if it's a cheap sparkly, you get a kir royale ;-)
Best regards

Guest's picture
Aunt Jenny

I add some triple sec and some fruit to turn cheap wine into sangria, which tastes wonderful! I bet the soda water would make it even better, I'll give it a try this weekend.

Andrea Karim's picture

Sangria! I mix in some rum, fruit, and then add diet Squirt to each glass before pouring. Easy to drink and very refreshing.

I've also noticed that red wine, even the cheap ones, can taste a lot better after being opened for a while. I decant into a juice jug and let it sit for an hour, and it tastes much better than when first opened.

Guest's picture

Wow, that is such a great idea!!! I have a couple of "lemons" relegated to food-ingredient duty, so I will have to try this sometime. =D

Guest's picture

One word: sangria! :)

Guest's picture

Fill Large Glass with ice. Add cheap red wine until glass is 2/3 full. Add cranberry juice (low cal is what I use) and Sprite (Diet for me) and mix. Play with the ratios until you are happy with the results.

Guest's picture

You should try to go to Spain.
They have used the wine/soda trick for many years.
They are mixing wine with a soda called gaseosa which is sweet.

The mixture is also called Tinto de Verano