Ever thought of why people aerate their wines? Is it worth investing in a good equipment to bring out the max potential of your wines?
To many beginners and social wine drinkers, aeration is somewhat like a snobbish act, people do it just because they see people doing it, either at posh events or on TV and they follow because they want to act like they know their wines as well (Don't laugh, i was there before).
For starters, not all wines need to be aerated, in fact most fruity young reds and most white wines do not need to be aerated. Sometimes, too much aeration will cause the wine to lose all its fruity and zesty notes, leaving it with a flat taste.
The wines that need to be aerated are those that are medium to heavy bodied wines, particularly red grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo (Barolo wine), Tempranillo (e.g. Rioja wine) and Merlot. White grape varietals like Chardonnay can also be aerated to bring out the full flavors of the wine.
Basically these wines have a lot of tannins. Tannins are derived mainly from the skin, stem and seed of the grape during the wine making process. While it gives the wine complexity, structure and allows it to age well, it also causes a dry and bitter taste in the mouth. That's where aeration comes into play, by maximizing the contact between the wine and the air, we essentially let the wine "breathe" and in the process accelerate the softening of the tannins as well as releasing all the complexities and aromas the wine has acquired during its delicate ageing process. The end result is a wine full of distinct aromas and a velvety feel in the mouth and the finish.
Aeration can range from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on individual preference and the type of equipment use.
The simplest way to aerate a wine is to get a proper red wine glass with a larger bowl. Pour the wine to only fill approximately 1/3 of the glass and swirl it. The larger bowl and lesser quantity of the wine in the glass will maximise the surface area that the wine is in contact with air when you swirl. You can refer to the link below for more information on different wine glasses
The next way is to invest in a decanter, decanting not only allows you to aerate the wine, it also help to remove sediments that sometime appears in older vintages of wines (>10 years). The logic is the same with swirling the wine in the glass but a decanter now expands the surface area many more times than it is in the glass/bottle. Decanter ranges from $20 to several thousand dollars depending on the brand and material. However the most important factor to note when buying one is that it should have a wide base and a relatively narrow long stem/neck.
Lastly we look at some other products/innovations in the markets that claims to speed up the aeration process. All these involve "violently" exposing the wine with air in a short period of time to speed up the aeration process. One of the most popular is the Vinturi Red Wine Aerator Tower set. This allows you to pour the wine over the aerator directly into the wine glass. Its patented design purports to "draw in and mixes the proper amount of air for the right amount of time; allowing the wine to breathe instantly". The stand saves you the hassle of holding on to the aerator while pouring the wine. The next product I would recommend is the Aervana Electric Wine Aerator. This product is simpler to use than the Vinturi because it is battery operated and uses a pump, therefore eliminating the hassle of pouring the wine by replacing it with a push of the button. I have placed the videos of the 2 products below if you would like to find out more.
In conclusion, heavier bodied wines needs to be aerated to soften the tannins as well as to bring out the full potential of the wines. There are many different methods and tools of which I have listed some above. How you do it is entirely up to you.
Just remember to breathe, cause life is too short to have bad wines.
Vinturi Red Wine Aerator Tower set.
Aervana Electric Wine Aerator