To Aerate or Not, That is the Question

Metrokane Rabbit Aerating Pourer

In a previous post we explained how oxygen is detrimental to wine, with only a few exceptions.  Once wine is in the bottle or in your glass, extensive exposure to air can eventually “oxidize” the wine resulting in a chemical compound called acetaldehyde, which smells like rotten apples in large amounts, and further into acetic acid, which smells and tastes like vinegar.  Neither of these compounds sound like something you would want to smell or taste in your wine does it?  That is, unless you are in the vinegar-making business.

So, you may be asking yourself, if air is so bad for wine, why and when should we decant?  Historically, before winemakers mastered the art of clarification, decanting was necessary for all wines to separate the wine from sediment.  Today, this is still recommended for older, high-quality wines that are expected to throw off sediment as part of the ageing process.  For inexpensive, everyday wines made from larger producers who are generally highly mechanized and filtrate their wines extensively this is not often necessary.

While decanting focuses on the separation of sediment from the wine, aeration allows wine to breathe, softening tannins & imminently improving drinkability.  Unfortunately, this is not true across the board for all wines.  The types of wines that will benefit the most from aeration, by letting wine sit for a period of time in a decanter or poured through an aeration device, are younger, bolder and fairly tannic styles such as Barolo, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Petite Sirah and new world Cabernet Sauvignon to name a few.  Many of these wines can be highly concentrated and tannic early in their lives to the level that any “loss” of initial sensory impressions by aerating can actually be a good thing!

Thankfully, there are several different ways to decant and aerate wine and is accompanied by just as many devices to meet the needs of today’s fast and furious society.  If you don’t have the time or need the pomp and circumstance of a crystal decanter and are looking for something that is quick and easy to use, here are few options to consider:

The Rabbit pourer behaves like a mini-decanter-with-funnel-in-one in that it sprays multiple streams of wine through holes in the device down the sides of the clear plastic funnel before entering the glass.  This one attaches directly to the bottle so you do not need two hands to aerate.

The Vinturi Travel is the mini version of the well-known Vinturi which uses two holes in the sides to allow air to enter the funnel as wine is poured through it and down the sides of the plastic funnel tip before entering the glass.  It makes a cool sound too!  The size of the travel version makes it easy for you to take it any where you like to enjoy wine.

Talk about all-in-one!  This little guy filters sediment AND aerates at the same time and is also placed directly in the bottle allowing your other hand to freely hold your glass or change the channels on your TV while pouring.

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