What is a Wine Aerator?

Wine tasting is among the most popular things to do in some places in the world, such as in Napa Valley in the United States, which is one of California’s best wine tasting destinations. This activity is both a science and art for professionals and an enjoyable experience for amateurs. However, to be able to have a good wine tasting experience, you need to appreciate the wine in optimal conditions. 

Have you ever tried opening a bottle of wine, poured a glass, and tasted notes of, well, wine? For those who have not spent time in sommelier courses training in deductive wine tasting and don`t have sommelier certification or who are not intimately familiar with tannins in wine, it can be quite challenging to isolate and identify the sensory characteristics of wine. With this, it can be frustrating when the tasting notes you are reading do not seem to apply to you. 

If this is the case, then what you need is a wine aerator. You might wonder what it is, why it is important, and how it is done. To help you out, read on as we’re giving you more information about what a wine aerator is. 

What Does a Wine Aerator Do?

A wine aerator is basically a device utilized to aerate wine or to let it breathe. It is a tool that will allow you to appreciate your wines better and no longer wait for the tasting. To put it simply, a wine aerator is used to force the wine to interact with air to accelerate its oxidation and evaporation. It is done by sending the wine through a funnel of pressurized oxygen. When the wine is exposed to unnatural levels of oxygen, the compounds within it that are susceptible to oxidation undergo a chemical reaction. 

It is similar to the chemical reaction that occurs when fruit turns from young to overripe. One of the compounds that are vulnerable to oxidation is ethanol or alcohol. Some of it is converted to acetaldehyde and acetic acid, which decreases the strong, medicinal, or vegetal characteristics that are usually noticeable in the wine’s bouquet.

Another chemical reaction present in using a wine aerator is evaporation. Ethanol and sulfites are two of the unstable compounds within the wine, and they are the first to evaporate. Sulfites are purposefully placed in wine to control microbes and prevent overoxidation in the process of making them. Though both ethanol and sulfites are important to wine production, there are always extra molecules of them that freely float and can be removed. 

Aerating the wine is not actually changing its character but more of grooming the wine. It takes what’s already there and makes it as pleasant and organized as possible. It reduces the medicinal and sulfuric aspects of the flavor and aroma of the wine.

Advantages of Using a Wine Aerator

If you are wondering what good things you can get from using a wine aerator, here’s a list of advantages that you can get from it:

A wine aerator can make your wine taste better.

The oxidation that happens as the wine passes through the aerator aids in softening the flavors and releases aromas in the wine, which brings it to its full potential. 

Using a wine aerator is an efficient way of letting the wines breathe.

Instead of pouring a bottle of wine into a decanter and letting it sit, an aerator will allow you to enjoy the wine immediately. The great thing is that often, it has the same positive impact on the flavor of the wine as letting it breathe in a decanter for about 30 minutes. 

A wine aerator can help you make the most of every single drop of wine that you have.

When you pour out the entire bottle of wine into a decanter, you potentially need to throw away some leftover wine that you can’t finish. But when you use a wine aerator, you will be able to enjoy your wine by the glass without wasting a drop. It’s because when you’ve had enough, you can simply remove the aerator from the bottle and pop the cork back, and save the rest of the wine for the next day.

What Types of Wines Should You Let Breathe?

Before you use a wine aerator, you need to keep in mind that not all wines are created equal. In general, white wines do not benefit from aeration as they do not have high levels of pigment molecules found in red wines. These pigments are responsible for changing the flavor in response to oxidation. The exception can be white wines that were intended to age and develop earthly flavors. However, even with these types of wines, it is a good idea to taste them first before you consider aeration to know if the wine will benefit from it or not.

Type of Wine Needs Aeration?
Barolo
Bordeaux
Northern Rhone Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Francs
Nebbiolo
Petite Sirah
Tempranillo
Montepulciano
Malbec
Petit Verdot
Merlot
Chenin
White Burgundy
Chardonnay
White Bordeaux
Alsace Whites
Vintage Ports
Pinot Noir
Burgundy
Beaujolais
Cotes du Rhone
Red wines under $12 price range
Tawny Ports
Regular Ports

In addition to white wines, inexpensive red wines like fruity ones also do not improve in flavor from aeration. There might be times when they will taste worse. These types of wine are best tasted after they are opened. It’s because oxidation makes them taste flat after about 30 minutes, and they can taste bad after an hour. 

Wines that are earthly-flavored, specifically those that have been aged in a cellar, are most likely to benefit from aeration. They are considered “closed” right after they are uncorked, and they open up to display a greater range and depth of flavors when you let them breathe.

Different Types of Wine Aerator

In general, you use a wine aerator by inserting it on the bottle end and pouring the wine directly into the glass. Tilt the wine bottle to a 45-degree angle, and you will see and hear the airflow. Since the aerator fits directly on the bottle, you can do the process using just one hand. You also need to learn that wine aerators have two main types, which are handheld and in-bottle stoppers. 

Handheld Aerator

A handheld aerator looks similar to a chemistry beaker or a small wine glass, depending on the brand that you buy. These types of aerators are held above the glass as the wine filters through its chambers. There are also some that sit on top of the glass, which allows you to pour the wine without balancing the aerator on the other hand. This is an easier version to use, and it is equally effective. 

When you are looking for a great handheld aerator, try to search for one with a large vessel for the wine to filter through. It’s because the larger the surface area of the aerator, the more oxygen will flow through the wine, which in turn will make it more flavorful and aromatic.

In-Bottle Stopper

There are also wine aerators that work by adding oxygen to the wine as it is poured out of the bottle. It is pushed into the bottle like a stopper, then the bottle of wine is poured as usual. Instead of letting the wine flow freely, this type of aerator only allows a small amount of wine out at once. The wine gets further filtered through a small bowl at the tip of the aerator. 

When buying an in-bottle stopper type of wine aerator, it is better to choose one that has a bow attached or some kind of chamber that mixes the wine with oxygen. These types aerate the wines more effectively compared to those that do not have this feature.

Conclusion

Using a wine aerator is indeed a great idea if you want to improve the taste of your wines. Aerating the right types of wine is among the simple skills to learn, and it is something that can help improve your wine drinking experience and as well as your overall wine knowledge. It is also a great tool that will make you love drinking wine more. Taking some time to do a good wine tasting is a great expression of the love that you have for wine and the desire to learn more about the flavors that you like. We hope this post helped you learn more about wine aerators.