Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aeration Part II: Gadgets

In a previous post I got on my soap box (or wine box) to give you my pitch for wine aeration. Below are links to some gadgets out there all designed to provide wine aeration. I have seen a recommendation to throw the wine into a blender for a while (I haven’t tried this as my wine may end up tasting like margarita’s or pesto). The choice of what to use is yours, as long as it aerates, there really isn’t a wrong choice.

The Aeration Gadgets - It’s All About the Accessories

Gadget #1 - The Decanter. The use of a decanter is something that wine geeks like to argue, and some geeks would disagree with my opinion that aeration is vitally important. The process of decanting a wine, or pouring it into another vessel, gives you an opportunity to pour the wine through a stainer to remove any sediment that may have formed in the wine as it aged in the bottle. It is perfectly normal to have some sediment, especially if the wine label identifies it as an “unfiltered” wine.  Your wine may or may not need to be poured through a strainer, but another benefit of decanting is that it helps aerate the wine.  In fact, many decanters like the one pictured below are designed with a super-wide bottom to expose your wine to the maximum of air. The wine will get some aeration from being poured into the decanter, and some additional aeration if your decanter is shaped like the one below, but I also like to give the decanter a swirl every 10 or so minutes to help promote even more aeration (this may take some practice, but don't be afraid to give it a good swirl). I use and recommend the flat bottom model (wasn't that a Queen song?) - like the one pictured on the left below:

Gadget #2 Wine Aerator. With a name like this how can you go wrong - this thing Aerates!!!. With these gadgets, you pour the wine through the aerator, either as you pour into the glass, or even as you pour from the bottle into a decanter, thus achieving multi-gadget status. There are different brands, the one I use and really like is the Vinturi. If pouring into a bottle, you just hold the aerator above the glass. For a decanter, the aerator will fit in the neck of most wine decanters so you don’t have to hold it. It take a little work to pour wine quickly enough so that it doesn’t come out of the aeration holes, but slowly enough that it doesn’t overflow out the top. Practice a bit with water until you get the hang of it. I see on Vinturi website they now offer a separate aerator for white wines and one for spirits. I’m not sure about spirits, but using the same aerator for both red and white is absolutely fine. 

There are aerators that fit in the neck of the wine bottle. I have not tried this type, and while I am sure they are easer to use, the amount of aeration will likely be less. I would classify these as better than not using an aerator, but would suggest something like the Vinturi.

Gadget #3 Breathers.  I have seen these gadgets being promoted at some wine events, but have never tried one. The idea is to add air bubbles to the wine either by a hand pump, or through a battery powered pump like the one pictured below. I have not personally used one of these, but I don't believe they would be effective, as very little of the wine would be impacted by the bubbles.  I may be wrong - so let me know if you've had a good (or bad) experience with one of these gadgets!

Gadget #4 The Wine Whisk. I do not have one of these, but I really do need to get one and at our next restaurant outing, surprise my wife by whipping this bad boy out and giving my wine a good whisking!!! If you want a whisk - you can get one here
Right Wine Glasses Can Help

Good wine glasses do actually make a difference in helping to achieve aeration. Lead Crystal glasses have a microscopic texture (wow - didn’t I say I would go easy on the wine geek stuff and I’m already talking about the microscopic textures of wine glasses - oops!!!) that help to aerate the wine as you swirl. Wine glasses that are truly made out of glass do not have this feature. In future posts I will talk more about wine glasses and other benefits of crystal, but for now I’ll just say that crystal is better for enjoying your wine, but you definitely don’t have to buy the most expensive glasses to realize the benefits.

Temperature Matters

In an upcoming post I plan to talk more about temperature’s impact on wine (drinking and storage), but since we are trying to open up our wine and get the aromas released, it is important to note that temperature does matter.  The colder a wine is the more muted the aromas will be. Wine that you keep in your regular food refrigerator will be too cold to release much in the way of aromas.  If you have a glass of wine that feels very cold, the good news is that you possess an effective wine warming gadget already - your hands. Just hold the glass in your hands, and your 98.6 degrees will start helping your wine show all it has to show - aroma-wise anyway!

Bottom Line

Aeration will help most all types of wines, however you achieve it - by getting your swirl on or by using one of the myriad of aeration gadgets. If your are ordering a red in a restaurant (especially something “big” like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or a Red Zinfandel), don’t be afraid to ask your server to decant it - just remember this is one of the ways you get the most out of your wine purchase. Also, most restaurants that have wine decanters will bring them to your table. You can watch the technique of the person serving you wine to pick up some pointers for decanting at home.

Just remember - Enjoy that wine and keep swirling.

- Wino4 Life

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