Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aerators... do they work ?

Ever notice how a bottle of wine seems to taste better after the second or third glass? Or how a bottle will seem to open up and reveal more complexity and smoothness? That's because it does taste better – the wine has had time to be exposed to air. Decanting the bottle of wine into a decanter will introduce the wine to oxygen, but you need to wait to fully appreciate it to the fullest. Decanting is also a great way to separate sediment from the wine on older vintages.

In the past couple of years aerators have been making quite the buzz in the wine community. At first people did not know if it was marketing hype or just another gadget for cork dorks. I own several different aerators and was not thrilled because they did not do much to improve the aromas and taste of the wine to justify the effort.

I now have a couple that really do improve the wine and are well worth the effort. You will find the wine displays a better bouquet, enhanced flavors and a much smoother finish – exactly what a decanter can do for your wine after a couple of hours but instantly.

Aerators are a must for special older vintages but are excellent for improving the quality and smoothness of everyday wines.

Now don't expect your aerator to transform your bottom shelf $3 bottle into a top shelf gem. It just won't do that. But it will let you enjoy your wine to its absolute optimum potential immediately. 

Of the aerators I've tested, several worked much better while several cost quite a bit more. Coincidentally, the ones that worked better cost more. The adage "you get what you pay for" applies here. Some of the aerators are hand-held devices and some attached to the bottle's opening. The devices that are held over the decanter or individual glass seem to work better. The wine is exposed to air leaving the bottle before it even touches the aerator, giving it a head start if you will. The ones that mount to the bottle's end do not work as well in my opinion, as they don't seem to accomplish anything beyond what you'd already get from pouring straight from the bottle.

The other type of aerator I've used are devices that fit into the top of a decanter. As the wine is poured from the bottle onto the device it moves the wine to the walls of the decanter, exposing it to air. These work better than the aerators that fit onto the bottle but cannot work for an individual glass.

Below I've listed some aerators I've tried before that you might want to check out on your own. I've listed them in order of most improvement to the wine to least improvement. The top three all have similar design and actually work very well. I've put the top three in order of best price. *All prices based on those at Spec's in Galveston.

  • Vinturi (black) hand-held over glass or decanter   $42
  • Vinturi (white) hand-held over glass or decanter   $44
  • Decantus hand-held over glass or decanter   $50 
  • Menu attaches to bottle   $30
  • Final Touch attaches to bottle   $25
  • Menu Selection attaches to bottle   $20
  • Epic Decanter Funnel rests on decanter   $19
  • Prodyne Crystal Decanter Ball rests on decanter   $15
  • Metaller (stainless steel funnel) rests on decanter   $13
Decantus also offers a stand for its hand-held aerator that costs $16 that works with the Vinturis as well.

I'm giving the win to the Vinturi because it works as well as the Decantus but is less expensive.

Yes they do work !