Do Wine Aerators Really Work?
Does wine taste the same when you’ve aerated it vigorously for 10-15 seconds? According to sommeliers, wine tastes drastically different when aerated.
The following article describes the science behind aeration and how to add it to your wine experience.
What Is A Wine Aerator?
A wine aerator is a device that brings more air into wine by attaching to the mouth of the bottle. Simply put, aeration is a way to swirl the wine enough to reveal its entire bouquet.
While the standard forms of aeration refer to pouring the wine from the bottle or swirling it in the glass, the science has more to offer. From a few minutes to hours, the process can be different based on the wine or the tool you use.
Here are the uses for these devices:
- Control the oxidation
- Reduce the bitterness, acidity, or tannins
- More affordable than a decanter
- Evaporate tannins, sulfite, and ethanol
- Reveal the bouquet
- Enhance the smells or aroma
What Happens When Wine Is Exposed to Air
Did you know that air can alter the properties of the wine by enhancing favorable tastes and diminishing unfavorable flavors? For instance, when serving a bottle of organic wine from an online club right after opening, it doesn’t have any time to breathe. Depending on the wine and the type of aerator you use such as a handheld device, bottlecap, or decanter, the process will change the taste of the wine slightly .
While not all wines should be aerated, whites from white wine clubs that are medium-to-full-bodied and young reds are good candidates for aeration. Devices use two methods to enhance the flavors as demonstrated below.
- Oxidation: During this process, the ethanol in the wine transforms into acetic acid and acetaldehyde, removing medicinal aroma.
- Evaporation: When wine undergoes evaporation, the sulfites and the residual ethanol evaporates.
Common Myths About Aerators
Have you heard that these devices are bad for wine? The answer to this question and other common myths surrounding these devices are explored in greater depth below.
- Uncorking the bottle is sufficient aeration: FALSE. Letting the wine sit without the cork for hours is not enough for aerating it given the small mouth of the bottle.
- An aeration device can change the taste of a wine: TRUE. It can reduce the tannins to make the wine taste smoother.
- All aeration tools for wines work the same way: FALSE. There are devices that attach to the mouth of the wine bottle, and even decanters, which work differently.
- Aeration can remove the rotten smell of wines: TRUE. When you smell a matchstick or rotten egg upon opening a bottle of wine, it’s a sign that the wine needs aeration.
- You should aerate all wines: Light bodied whites need not be aerated, unlike young reds or whites.
Decanters Versus Aerators
A carafe is a beautiful vessel for pouring wine while a decanter is a vessel for catching the sediments of wines like old reds. Still, based on your choice, it can serve as an aesthetic vessel too.
Pros of Decanters
- Catching the sediment: If you love drinking Malbec or Syrah, a decanter will help you easily remove unwanted particles.
- For old wines: Decanters are the traditional way for pouring old wines that require slow aeration.
Cons of Decanters
- Expensive: The cost of a decent-sized decanter is $40+.
- Slow: While decanters are quicker than wine bottles for aeration, it does not work as quick as an aeration device.
Pros of Aerators
- For tannic wines: Aerating devices can reduce the tannins of a high-tannic wine.
- Quick aeration: Unlike decanters, wine aerating tools work quickly.
- Portable: The compact size of these devices makes them more portable than decanters.
Cons of Aerators
- Not good for all: Aged wines shouldn’t be aerated with these devices.
Is An Aerator Worthwhile?
While aeration gadgets cost anywhere from $10 to $20, decanters cost upwards of $40 and more. If you’re looking for an eye-pleasing investment, an artistic decanter can be used as a decorative piece, unlike an aerating device. However, these aeration devices are highly portable, making them easy to transport.
When browsing accessories available from wine clubs, there are chances you might find wine aerators for huge discounts. Gold Medal Wine Club, which features the popular pinot noir red wine club track, offers an affordable red wine aerator at $14.95.
Aeration in general is designed to improve wine rather than simply changing its characteristics. When you don’t like a particular wine, an aerator might prove a capable solution for making wine more palatable. It can also enhance the flavor profile by revealing hidden notes and suppressing the tannins. Moreover, these devices don’t ruin wine, and can be used for all the varying types.