Aeration occurs when wine is exposed to oxygen. Two things happen: oxidation and evaporation. Ever seen a banana turn brown? That’s oxidation in effect. Evaporation is the process of liquid turning into vapor--like steam rising from the kettle.
Wine is full of hundreds of compounds that work together to create a unique flavor. Some, unfortunately, are less desirable than others. Let’s take a look at the most notable!
Have you ever over-steeped your tea and tasted those bitter notes? Those are tannins! Tannins exist naturally in wine and break down the saliva in your mouth to create an astringent, dry feeling. Aeration allows the tannins to soften which creates a smooth, pleasant drinking experience. It speeds up the natural aging process that would have happened in the wine cellar and brings out the best and most expressive flavors in your wine. Simply popping the cork and letting the wine sit isn’t enough to allow the air to flow freely into the small neck of the bottle.
The strong alcohol smell that you may have experienced indicates the presence of naturally occurring ethanol, and wine aeration helps evaporate the odor.
Sulfites, a naturally-occurring preservative added to the wine, can also contribute to a burnt or egg-like flavor. Yikes! Who wants to smell sulfur?
Wine connoisseurs can agree that the traditional decanter or wine carafe works well when you have more time to spare, and when you’re dealing with an older bottle of wine with sediment. A decanter allows any bitter, unpalatable sediment to float to the bottom of the vessel. Be careful when pouring the wine into the decanter! You’ll want to leave most of the sediment in the wine bottle when transferring. We recommend letting the wine breathe for about fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on the style, so throw on some music and dance around the kitchen while you wait! Too much air and the wine will lose its structure.
When you’re short on time, a wine aerator is the way to go! You may have heard about the recent fad of pulsating wine in a blender, but there are much more elegant and effective solutions. Sommelier-approved, aerators (like our Vintorio Wine Aerator Pourer or Vintorio Omni Wine Aerator) are usually bulb-shaped aerators that you pop on a bottle and pour immediately; they're a faster and more efficient way of letting your wine breathe. If you can somehow muster the restraint, they’re perfect for casual use since there’s no need to pour out the entire bottle. You can pour yourself a glass and save the rest for later. Instead of waiting for your wine to breathe at your next wine tasting party which can create an awkward lull as guests wait for the wine to be poured, you can easily enjoy the wine immediately, without wasting a drop as you pour by the glass. You’ll be able to wake up the hundreds of different aroma compounds that exist in your favorite wine and taste the difference in red or white wines.