I believe everyone has heard that a red wine should be aerated, either letting it breathe or decanting an hour before guests arrive and even shaking the decanter to speed up the process. I recall going to restaurant in Hamilton several years ago. Dimly lit and our foursome were the only patrons. The wine list included a wine named ’Chateauneuf du Pape-like‘. I kid you not! A homemade wine. The server brought the wine bottle to the table and asked if one of us would like to taste. Of course! But first opening and decanting was a full service at this restaurant.
I was more than surprised - in fact I could feel myself stifle a giggle. The server proceeded to vigorously shake the decanter the palm of his hand pressed firmly on top to avoid spillage. ‘These fresh wines need airing for full nose and flavour’ he said.
Needless to say the wine was spongy, had weak popsicle fruit, mild acid and no tannins - similar to what you’d expect from freshly pressed grapes strained through cheesecloth.
I relived that experience when ‘researching’ this topic. Not the wine part but the 'aerator'. It seems everyone has ‘invented’ a version of a wine aerator. Daniel Bernoulli would turn over seeing the implementations based on one of his principles of fluid dynamics. All claim their product provides ‘the proper air-wine contact’. Some insist on the correct angle of bottle on pouring. Some insist their product has never fallen from the bottle on pouring. Some insist multiple aerators are needed for whites - and for scotches, brandies and so on.
What most do not do is examine the logistics of using their device in a social setting. Where do I put the aerator dripping wet with red wine between guest pourings? What do my guests do as they anxiously await their turn to be ‘aerated’. Some products have thimble size 'reservoirs' such you simply can’t speed up the pouring process. Almost as an after thought there are ’accessories’. A ’stand’, a drip holder, a second crystal decanter or just leave the aerator in the bottle letting each guest have the wonderful experience of ’aerating’ their own. But you’re having two (or more) reds and whites this evening. Now we need a wiping cloth and basin so the BH’s damask tablecloth, the patterned silk sofa with pastel cushions and the recently purchased white deep piled carpet aren’t stained.
The one recommendation from this discussion is, before you invest in an aerator, choose for style and convenience. Whether they swirl, gurgle, slosh or fizz they all essentially provide the same function. Play through a real life scenario of serving wine to guests in a setting of your choice. Use as a pattern what you do now without an aerator and then again imagining having an aerator(s) of your choosing. The following are some of those from a search of the Amazon website with prices excl. tax and shipping.
- Allure Aerating Decante $29.99
- Metrokane Rabbity Super-Aerating Decanter System $54.00
- Metrokane Houdini Decanter with Wine Shower Funnel and Sediment Strainer $36.00
- Vivid Wine Decanter & Vinturi Red Wine Aerator Gift Set $59.99
- Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator $34.41
- Soiree bottle-top Wine Decanter & Aerator $19.99
- Nicholas VinOair Wine Aerator $14.77
- Trudeau Aroma Aerating Pourer $24.45
- True Fabrications Wine Aerating Pour Spout $7.83
... and YES! Having used one recently the nose and flavour of most wines definitely improve with aeration, for instance McManis Zin - but a few do not, e.g. Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir