To Aerate or Not to Aerate – What Would Shakespear Do?

We love gadgets, gizmos and thingamabobs. Enter the “wine aerator” (insert dramatic background music here).  Whether you buy a $10  or a $90 bottle of wine, you want it to taste as delicious as possible.  Many believe that in order to do this you must let it breathe….that exposure of the wine to oxygen may help such wines  become more “expressive”.  Perhaps I’m less cultured or let’s just say less knowledgable about wines than most.  I’ll buy a bottle anywhere between $10-$20 and swear that it’s just as good as (if not better) than those $150 bottles I used to have to “creatively expense” for my boss after a business trip.  In fact, I can remember many a holiday department dinner when all the big shots who thought themselves wine connoisseurs brought fancy and “impressive” bottles of wine to the dinner and also gave them out as gifts to those less fortunate (aka the admins…the little people).  Nine times out of ten I didn’t care for  those wines at all. The worst part of it all wasn’t smiling and thanking them, but having to drink it and have then pontificate about how knowledgable they were and all the nuances about that particular wine, the grape, the process…blah blah blah.  But I digress…….back to the science.

There are three principal ways in which people aerate a wine:

  • Pour the wine directly from the bottle into a glass and then swirl the wine in the glass. Swirling both aerates the wine and volatizes it, releasing more aromatic molecules into the air. But swirling needs to be gentle unless you want to wear the wine. Therefore, oxidative changes brought about by swirling occur slowly.
  • Pour wine from the bottle into a decanter. This may aerate wine faster than swirling. Even more aeration can be achieved by using a funnel that makes the wine run in sheets down the inside wall of the decanter rather than just dropping to the bottom in a steady stream. The wine in the decanter has a large amount of surface area exposed to air and one can also swirl the decanter aggressively.
  • Some people who are in an even greater hurry, whether it be at a tasting event or rushed dinner, use aerating gadgets in an effort to accelerate oxidative changes even more. Most of these devices are designed to have the wine poured through them. During this process, the devices try to foster as much wine-air contact as possible.

 Of course, these methods can be combined. You could pass the wine through an aerator into a funnel on a decanter, violently swirl the decanter and then pour into a glass only to start swirling again. I’ve not heard of anyone pouring wine onto a cookie sheet and blasting it with a blow-dryer, but I suspect it’s been done.

I received an electric wine opener and a wine aerator as a Christmas gift from some dear friends.  I completely failed at the electric opener (I’m mechanically challenged) and when I used the aerator I couldn’t stop laughing because it sounded like it was farting!  OK – call me simple or sophomoric but FARTS ARE FUNNY!!!!!!!!  Admit it….when you hear someone fart you crack up.  The person in front of you in line at the grocery store that lets one escape and acts like nothing happened out of the ordinary and everyone’s reaction – or trying not to have one…FUNNY!  The little kid in the doctor’s office who let’s it rip just because the can and crack s up afterwards….FUNNY! The time my daughter aimed her butt into the bathroom at her brother and farted so loud it scared him so much that he fell backwards into the tub and into the litter box….FUNNY!!!!!  Oh my…I’m laughing a bit too much right now….again I digress.  I’ve forgotten…is this blog about wine aerators or farts?

I don’t know…’s like religion I guess.  Aerate the wine or don’t.  Believe in God or don’t.  Either way, it’s about what makes you happy and keeps you satisfied.  I don’t judge…I drink the wine, aerated or not, I pray in or out of church and don’t care what anyone else does or doesn’t do.  I adore my friends for raising my wine bar and educating me….even if I couldn’t work the electric wine opener.  



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