When you have a glass of wine, you want it to taste as good as possible. There are ways of making it the best it possibly can be and one of these is to use a wine aerator.
Perhaps you’ve never used one and have only seen them used by sommeliers but they aren’t particularly expensive or difficult to use, and they can give you a more enjoyable experience.
What is a Wine Aerator?
A wine aerator is a tool that aerates the wine, bringing out the flavor and aroma of the wine. However, how does this work? Well, the aerator allows the wine to come into contact with the air to accelerate oxidation and evaporation.
You may be thinking that oxygen isn’t good for wine and yes, it’s true if you open the bottle and leave it for a few days. However, if you open the bottle and drink it within a couple of hours, the air is good for the wine’s taste and smell.
When you use an aerator, the surplus ethanol and sulfites in the wine mellow and evaporate. This can improve the flavor and texture of the wine by removing unwanted tastes and enhancing subtle notes.
A wine aerator can also soften the tannins and acidity of the wine.
There are two main types of aerators, and they will both get rid of any bitterness in the wine. The two choices are handheld and in-bottle stoppers. In this article, we will take a look at both.
They both add oxygen to the wine as it is poured into the glass. The extra oxygen allows the aromatic flavors to expand, so adding more flavor and therefore, giving you a more enjoyable drink.
Perhaps you are interested to know how the aerator physically works. To put it simply, there is an aeration chamber inside the aerator and when the wine goes through it, it is swirled.
This releases the tannins and sulfites. This can turn a cheaper bottle of wine into one that tastes expensive.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Wine Aerator
Yes, a wine aerator does enhance the flavor and aroma of wine, but as with most things, there are cons as well as pros. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons in more detail.
1 – An aerator evaporates bitter compounds.
This is the main benefit of using a wine aerator. Using a wine aerator will evaporate all the bitter compounds such as ethanol and sulfites. Once it has done this, you will be left with a fantastic aroma and flavor.
2 – It saves you money.
Yes, believe it or not, it can save you money. You might think that a $10 wine is not a patch on one worth $20 or even $30 but a wine aerator enhances the flavor of your wine and improves the aroma.
A cheaper bottle of wine can then taste nearly as good as a more expensive one or even just as good. Try it and see what you think!
A wine aerator can over-aerate your wine.
There aren’t many tools that don’t have at least one negative and for a wine aerator, it is that it can over-aerate your wine. Some aromatic compounds in wine are delicate and subtle and can be lost behind more intense fruit and oak aromas released by aerating.
This is why it is possible to over-aerate a bottle of wine and so the wine won’t have the flavors it should have.
How To Properly Use a Wine Aerator
There are two types of aerators. The most popular aerator is one that is attached to the bottle once you have removed the cork. The other comes with a stand and you have to hold it. We recommend the first as it is easier to use but we will tell you how to use both.
The attached designs are called wine pour aerators or bottle stoppers. To use one, follow these instructions.
- Ensure that the aerator is properly inserted into the wine bottle.
- Start pouring the wine into your glass. Watch the wine swirling around the aerator allowing the flavor and aromas to emerge. Allow it to do this before pouring the wine into your glass.
- Now comes the best bit and that is to sip your wine.
As you can see, it is very simple and quick to use this design of aerator.
If you decide to buy a hand-held aerator, you should follow these instructions.
- Position the aerator on top of your wine glass.
- Start to slowly pour the wine, making sure that the aerator doesn’t overflow.
- Finish pouring the wine and move on to the next glass. You are now ready to enjoy your wine.
Tips For Using a Wine Aerator
- Make sure that the wine is at the right temperature to ensure that you get optimum aromas and flavors. Red wine should be served at temperatures between 10C and 16C and white wine between 4C and 10C.
- Check that your wine hasn’t gone off. An aerator won’t make it any better.
- Ensure that your wine glasses are clean.
What Should You Look For in a Wine Aerator?
Now you know what an aerator is and how to use one, whether you buy one that fits into the bottle or one that is hand-held, it is time to take a quick look at what to look for when going out to buy one.
This is the foremost thing you should consider when deciding which aerator to buy. These are the different designs. You will already be familiar with the two main ones.
- Funnel-like aerator. This is the most common design. It is simply a funnel that is fitted over the mouth of the bottle of wine. It allows air to mix with the wine as it is being poured.
- Handheld wine aerator. With one of these, you hold the aerator over the glass and pour the wine through it.
- Pourer-style aerator. This is similar to the funnel-like design but it is smaller and is put into the mouth of the wine bottle.
- Decanter. A decanter allows the whole bottle of wine to be aerated at once. It has a wide base that allows the wine to mix with air.
Price is always important when it comes to buying anything and a wine aerator is no exception to the rule. We do advise that you don’t choose the cheapest one. Generally, you get what you pay for.
You should be able to tell the quality by just looking at it. What is it made from? It’s better not to choose one made of plastic as they possibly won’t last that long and may not do the job properly.
The best ones are made from stainless steel, acrylic, and even crystal. They will cost more but they will last longer and do the job better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all you need to know about wine aerators but in case you want to know more, we have answered a few questions here.
Is it possible to aerate wine without an aerator?
Yes, you can aerate wine without an aerator and the chances are that you have already done so. One alternative is to put the wine in a decanter. A decanter generally has a small neck and a wide base allowing as much of the wine to come into contact with the air.
If you don’t have an aerator or a decanter, you can pour the wine back and forth from two containers or simply swirl the wine around in your glass before drinking it.
What is the difference between a decanter and a wine aerator?
A wine decanter is like a jug but with a wide bottom and a narrow neck. It filters out sediment before you drink the wine. It also allows air to enter your wine, enhancing the flavor and aroma of the wine. It takes a little longer to work than an aerator.
Pour the wine into the decanter before your guests arrive and it should be perfect by the time you sit down for your meal. A wine aerator is a separate tool that wine passes through before being served.
Passing wine through an aerator allows air to get into the wine quicker than if you use a decanter. An aerator has the advantage over a decanter in that it can soften the wine’s tannins and reduce bitterness.
Can all types of wine be aerated?
You can aerate both red and white wines. When it comes to white wines, an aerator is useful because they generally have a lot of sulfites, more so than red wines. Aerating white wine will get rid of the sulfites.
Sulfites can give the wine a sour taste, or make it sweeter, or more acidic. Red wines, on the other hand, usually have a lot of tannins which can be bitter and leave a dry taste in your mouth. An aerator helps to soften the tannins.
However, when it comes to sparkling wine, you need to be careful. An aerator can take away some of the bubbles. Aged wines can be aerated but be careful not to over-aerate as they could lose some of the flavor and it could destroy the tannin structure. The wine would then lose its intensity and power.
Will a Wine Aerator Make a Spoiled Wine Better?
Unfortunately, not. An aerator can make a cheap wine better as long as it hasn’t spoiled, but if the wine is bad, it won’t get better with aerating. You are best just throwing the wine away. A pity but who wants to drink bad wine?
As we have shown, an aerator is an asset when it comes to serving wine. It enhances the flavor and aroma of wine and gives you a much better drinking experience.