How Wine Aerators Work
In the nineteenth century, the wealthy had their wine decanted by a servant, usually the butler, in order to remove sediment from the wine and allow the wine to “breathe.” As the middle class rose and began drinking fine wine and servants became less affordable and available to even the wealth, this task began to fall upon the host or hostess.
Today decanting for the purpose of removing sediment is seldom necessary, but many wine lovers still prefer their wine to have a chance to mix with air before being served; to this end, the wine aerator has found a place of prominence among wine lovers. However, when we were in France, we learned that many restaurants cook with wine sediment, it gave the foods and gravy incredible flavor.
A wine aerator does, in a few minutes, what use to take an hour or more of decanting; the aerator mixes air with the wine enhancing its taste. The way this is accomplished is so elegant in its simplicity that one wonders why it took as long as it did to be invented.
The wine enters the aerator (placed above a decanter or a wine glass), and air flows up into the wine to replace wine that is leaving the bottom of the aerator. If this sounds confusing, remember when you were a child and held the ketchup or steak sauce bottle upside down and smacking the bottom of the bottle in vain until a parent explained why nothing was coming out.
In order for the ketchup or sauce to leave the bottle air needed to go into the bottle to replace what was coming out and so the bottle had to be held at an angle. The wine coming straight down the narrow exit at the bottom of the aerator creates enough of a vacuum to suck air up into the wine waiting its turn to exit, thus mixing wine and air.
Red wine benefits the most from aerating, but some white wines can be enhanced as well, particularly if they aren’t old enough to have fully matured. The more tannins in a wine the more its flavor will be improved by aeration.
There are both red and white wine aerators available, and while their expense may seem unnecessary, when you factor in being able to make a $20 bottle of wine taste as good as a $40 dollar tasted prior aerating, it’s worth it. You can actually find wine aerators for under $10 and all the way to over $300, so make sure to do your research.
We use a decanter with an aerator at my house, this one is cool because you actually flip the bottle and the decanter upside down. It’s definitely a conversation piece when guests are over. This one is only about $40 on Amazon, we have had ours for years and have absolutely zero complaints.
If you feel a wine aerator isn’t worth the price, you could simply advise your guests to swirl their wine glasses before drinking and chance the occasionally sloshing of wine onto your furniture and carpet. And if you or a guest just so happens to get some red wine on the carpet, don’t fret, here is how to remove red wine stains.
If you are looking for a simple gift idea for the wine lover in your life, you can never go wrong with a wine aerator in my opinion. I have one in the RV, one upstairs and several downstairs.