So everyone's talking about hyper-decanting these days: this guy, for instance; or this snippet in The Independent. And some others. What is hyper-decanting, if you didn't already know? 'Thanks to this genius 30-second hack,' claims The Indie, 'you can now turn your cheap plonk into seriously fine wine. If you’re a vino lover who can’t necessarily afford the good stuff - or you just can’t stand parting with your cash - at some point you’ve probably had to ask yourself whether that vintage bottle is really worth it. But now you don’t have to. Instead, put your bargain bottle in the blender. Seriously.'
Well, I know I'm a vino lover who can't necessarily or even sporadically afford the good stuff, so this is pushing at an open door. And the concept is so easy to grasp: you take your cheap muck and blitz it for five to ten seconds in a kitchen blender; at the end of which you have something which tastes like mid-range muck. Perfection!
What next? I almost literally run out of the house in order to acquire a bottle of one of Waitrose's very worst red wines, their Inycon Nero d'Avola/Frappato mash-up, which I've mistakenly drunk before and know to be horrible. The mere thought of inflicting damage on this stuff is quite bracing enough, but if I can get a drink out of it at the end, then this really will have been a good day. Back the awful bottle comes and I set up my tasting: one glass of untouched Inycon, left to settle for a minute or so; one glass of Inycon, blitzed for five seconds in a Braun blender which I think we last used to make pancake batter, but which I concientiously wipe out with a kitchen spongecloth; one glass of Inycon blitzed with a hand blender in a jug for five seconds, this hand blender normally a thing for making soups but clean enough to the naked, credulous, eye.
Straight Inycon: some cabbage-water in the nose, followed by a sensation of worn felt under the tongue and a slight irritation in the cheeks. Finally a coda of spent safety matches. About par for the course with this particular wine: no real gratification at all.
Inycon in the blender: no nose to speak of, but a much more integrated effect on the palate, with something like raspberry going on plus a bit of acidity and a whoof of cardboard to finish. Not bad, in other words; also a terrific process to watch, with a welter of inky red juice in the blender jug, subsiding to a heaving scarlet foam. Real splatter-movie visuals and well worth the effort of finding the blender in the first place, buried as it was behind an archipelago of tiny jamjars and a salad spinner.
Inycon done over with the hand blender: a touch of stale shirt in the nose, a bigger delivery of fruit thereafter, cardboard and nuts in the finish, actually a more impactful experience than the Inycon blizted in the standup blender. Which I take to be a good thing, if an oversized fruity blast is what you want. What I don't understand, though, is why the hand blender experience should be a discernible improvement over that of the standup blender - until it occurs to me that the spongecloth I wiped out the blender jug with had previously been steeped in Flash kitchen cleaner (with bleach), enough, maybe, to denature the end product. Although, let's face it, if Inycon Nero d'Avola/Frappato can withstand an assault by both bleach and blender, it's less a wine and more of a DIY product; and I think there could be some useful crossover synergy there.
Would I go through this absurd ritual again? You know, if the blender wasn't stuck in the back of the cupboard I think I might. I can see a routine developing, in which the crack of the screwtop is more often than not followed by the roar of the blender and the steady glug of the foul beverage being funelled back into the bottle. Clearly, at no point is it transformed from bargain to vintage, but that's all right. People who operate at my level of delusional wretchedness can't afford to be picky about these things, and if this is where wine meets slashing, spinning blades and comes out ahead, then perhaps 2016 will not end as the complete disaster it has been so far.