With so many wine accessories on the market, sometimes it seems difficult to decide what gadgets are actually necessary to thoroughly enjoy your wine and what gadgets are just fancy gimmicks. When it comes to aeration products – that is, devices that are meant to let a red wine “breathe” before consumption – there are certainly plenty to choose from.
By now, several questions might be floating in your head: What is aeration? Is it necessary? What do these aeration things do that I can’t on my own? If I do need one, which aeration device is the best? To answer these questions and more, let’s start at the beginning.
Aeration is the process of mixing air into wine with the goal of releasing aromas and flavor that were bottled up (pun intended) before you opened the wine. The original purpose of decanters was to allow the wine to “breathe” (get air mixed into the wine). Nowadays we have several devices that fit into the bottle to aerate the wine as you pour it, and even special wine glasses that aerate as you sip. Is it necessary? Well, if you’ve never aerated and have been enjoying wine for years, obviously it’s not vital – but if you want a chance to taste a wine at its best, to see what the real flavor and full aroma could be, then aeration – whether natural or through a device – is necessary. Natural aeration just means opening the bottle of wine and letting it sit, un-poured and undisturbed for several hours. With natural aeration, you must pay attention to wine type and age, as older wines need a different amount of “breathing” time than younger ones. For most of us, however, having an open bottle sitting on the counter just begs for drinking….this is when using an aeration device comes in handy. Now pouring the whole bottle into a decanter is fine, if you definitely plan on drinking the whole bottle in one sitting. But if you are serving multiple wines at a party (or for yourself) or you’re not sure you can finish a bottle in one sitting – having an aerating glass or an aerator that fits in a bottle can give you the true flavor and enhanced experience instantly.
Aerators allow the right amount of oxygen into the wine as it is poured, no matter the age or type of wine. As far as what aerator is right for you and your wine, it certainly depends on budget and how much a wine enthusiast versus a wine connoisseur you wish to be. There are aerators that simply aerate the wine from bottle to glass (like the Nuance Wine Finer – and it’s easy to clean! Or this Bordeaux Aerator at an economic $12.99) or you can get an aerator that fits into your glass (like this popular Vinturi that gives a pretty show while it pours!). The more you drink wine and desire for different wine experiences, the more complicated the aerator you can buy (ones that aerate into a decanter provide several levels of aeration before a single drop of wine touches your lips). The best method in selecting your aerator is to simply try an aerator you feel comfortable using, and enjoy the enhanced wine drinking experience!