Google “wine aerators” and you get more than one million hits in about half a second. There are elegant ones, elaborate ones, bulky models that look like a science project or sleek ones that belong in a showcase, aerators shaped like Blowfish or Seahorses.
But are they useless gadgets destined to gather dust in the gadget drawer? Or do they really work?
The principle is simple – expose a wine – typically red – to oxygen and it enhances the flavours. It is why we swirl the wine in the glass. The decanter does it more efficiently and an aerator claims to do the job as well but faster – always good when you are ready for that first Friday glass of wine.
An aerator is most commonly used with red wine – Bordeaux, Merlot, and the rip-your-face off beauties like Barolos and Brunellos. Letting these wines breathe give you the chance to appreciate the complex flavours and texture without the tannins forcing your face into a permanent pucker. But they also work with younger wines, smoothing them out and bringing out their flavours together. Some white wines also benefit – especially the full-bodied ones.
Now some collectors say a wine under $20 putting through an aerator , others feel just about any bottle can improve with decanting.
I received a few snazzy aerators for Christmas so my FWT (favourite wine tester who is there is the distance) and I tried them out.
We tried the picked a high end and low end wine, one glass aerated, one not, to see if there was a difference in the results based on the quality of the wine. I used the Vinturi – which also comes with a very elegant holder to avert drips on the white tablecloth.
Pietranera Brunello 2004 $37.95
Dogajolo Carpineto Toscano Rosso IGT 2010 $16.95 (SAQ price – ***see below for info in Ontario***)
We tried the Dogajolo first so it wouldn’t be overshadowed by its big Italian brother. Medium –bodied dry wine very pleasant – tasted better through the aerator, but it did not make a huge difference. This was a young wine a mix of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignion grapes, and not super tannic. It is nicely balanced and I would buy it again.
The results were much more dramatic with the second wine. The Brunello, straight out of the bottle (which was uncorked a few hours earlier), caused instant pucker. The same wine poured through the aerator was much smoother. The tannins transformed to velvet and the flavours of berries and spice much more vivid.
If you allowed this wine to spend time in a decanter, you would get the same results. While an aerator is not essential, it comes in handy if you didn’t have time to decant or if you don’t plan to finish the whole bottle, which does not happen to me all that often.
If you want to pick one up, the Vinturi at $34.95 is a great choice.
Sip, swirl and savour to your heart’s content in the new year!
Tina even shot a short video about aerating and some of the fun gadgets here’s the link so you can take a look Just Add Air
****Dogajolo Carpineto Toscano Rosso IGT 2010 – in Ontario you won’t find this at the LCBO but it can be purchased as a consignment item from RKW Wine Imports The holidays wiped out their inventory but if you put in an order you should be able to get it by mid February. Also, since it’s a consignment you’ll have to get an entire case (but you can always split that with friends) and bonus because in ON it’s $14.95 two dollars cheaper than in QC.*******