Wine Talk

Snooth User: winetastesveryfine

Thoughts about wine aerators? Can they replace a decanter?

Posted by winetastesveryfine, Aug 27.

So I just started a wine tasting class a couple of weeks ago in college as an elective course. I am learning a lot about wine, and recently aeration, so we have been using decanters to let Cabernet Sauvignon breathe, which does get better after some minutes in the decanter. I felt like it also improved a lot an Argentine Malbec young wine.

But earlier today a classmate shared this aerator on facebook. So now I am pretty curious about this whole "wine aerator" thing. I've done some research. Yet I'm still not sure about how this could possibly work, or whether it could really improve some wine to the degree of a decanter. What are your thoughts on this?

 

 

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 28.

Decanting and "aerators" are often over used and often seen as amateurish to more experienced folks. Letting the wine open up in the glass and sipping it every now and again (with the wine in the bottle) is the best way to get used to drinking wine. In other words, the wine glass is the best decanter IMO.

The time to decant is when you have a painfully young wine that's too harsh out of the bottle and you don't have all evening to drink it. If its a few or more people and you know you'll be racing through it in an hour, then that's when I'd decant in advance, and additionall you could aerate as well upon pouring. It's just not a very "organic" way of going about drinking wine, especially the aerating.

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Reply by dvogler, Aug 28.

JD is correct, however, I wouldn't pass judgement on those who may use it or not.  The best way to get to know a wine is by tasting it right after you open it.  Of course, it may need some air, but after twenty minutes in the glass, it'll be different and over the next half hour it should change, maybe not dramatically, but you'll notice changes.  Sometimes I take notes and so in future, I can decide if decanting it is best before a dinner, then I know.  I've had many wines that right out of the bottle made me cringe, but an hour later I was in love.  I have an aerator, but I haven't used it for several years. 

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Reply by gregt, Aug 28.

The thoughts above explain why an aerator is mostly a gimmick. If your wine changes by interacting with air, and if that change takes place over time, what is accomplished by the aerator?

If you are decanting a young wine, you pour it down the middle of the decanter and let it splash inside - you don't pour carefully along the side of the decanter as you might if you were decanting for sediment. That splashing will beat air into the wine just as well as any decanter. You do that mostly to help eliminate some of the sulfur aromas. Other reactions with air and oxygen take time, i.e. more than a few seconds. So the aerator essentially accomplishes nothing that you can't accomplish without it.

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Reply by outthere, Aug 28.

I consider aerators quirky toys that newbies use when they think their $12 Cab will improve.

As for decanters, I am known for drinking a lot of wines before their time. In the case of complex wines like Cabs or stubborn wines like Petite Sirah I will often decant hours early or double decant (pour to decanter and back to the bottle) and let it sit for a day with the cork out at cellar temp. Following a wine from PNP is fun but if I am pouring wine for more than just myself that isn't usually a possibility.

To answer your question, no, aerators will never replace decanting.

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Reply by Mike Madaio, Aug 28.

I agree about the aerators but would certainly take issue with the idea that decanting is amateurish. In my experience almost all wines will benefit from moderate decanting. The only ones that will not are: old, delicate wines clinging to life, young wines with a flawed seal clinging to life, or wines that suck either way. Not that they always need to be decanted for hours. 30-60 minutes should do it, and if that's too much time, just splash decant right before you start drinking, which can help too. You can pre-pour glasses if you don't have a decanter. (Pyrex measuring cups also make good decanters if company is not involved.)

As for aerators, I have one. I use it when I don't like how a wine is showing at dinner, and it does occasionally make it better (but just as often not). But I only use it rarely, and as a last resort.

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Reply by winetastesveryfine, Aug 28.

Thanks a lot everybody. I do find lots of value in the different opinions here. So I guess I will try out an aerator with a young wine, though overall it seems like somewhat unnecessary, considering each of your takes in this subject.

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Reply by EMark, Aug 28.

WTVF -- Why don't you try some lab work in association with your class?  With your back turned have a friend pour two glasses of the same wine for you.  One glass poured directly from the bottle, the other glass pour from the same bottle through an aerator.  You don't know which glass was aerated and which one wasn't.  So, taste each glass.  Do they taste the same or do they tasted differently?

Before you tell your colleague whether or not you could discern a difference, have him/her turn around and pour two similar glasses for him/her to test.  

Now, could either of you tell which one was aerated and which one wasn't?

If you both guessed correctly which glass was aerated, then maybe aerators work for you.  If neither of you could discern a difference between the two glasses, then, maybe, aerators do not work for you.  If the two of you come up with different results, then, obviously, more testing is required.  :-)

I, personally, have never performed the above test.  So, my opinion is not worth very much.  The first time I ever encountered an aerator was at a tasting in a retail store.  I had never seen one or even heard of it.  The girl behind the counter explained the concept to me and then let me have a taste from the same bottle with and without the aerator.  I could not tell the difference between the two tastes.  However, that was not a blind test--and I have an incorrigible prejudice against "gadgets."  

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 28.

Also do the same and have the two glasses of wine sit for 10' then taste. Also do the same and have the wine sit for 30' and taste. Also do the same and have the wine sit for 10' without 'aeration'. Also do the same and have the wine sit for 30' without aerator interference. Also do the same both with and without aerator use and taste after one hour.

Then do the decanter tests--with and without at 10', 30', 60', 120' and 180'.

And expand the monitor sampling to at least 3 or 4 people. The more the merrier.

Etc.

If you want to get more meaningful results. 

 

Gadgets are one thing (and that's what PCs were called by many people back in the '70s). Gimmicks are another. Aerators are the kind of thing that marketeers gimcracked for TV sales experiences and profits-for-nothing.

 

In my experience, over-decanting just bruises wine, often is more for showmanship as well as from lack of experience. Am with JD on that subject.  Would be happy to conduct some experiments with you, Mike, if we're every in the same physical space, though have no idea when that might be. But not with truly good wines, which I won't want to lessen...  ;-)

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Reply by Mike Madaio, Aug 29.

I love the idea of an experiment, and would be happy to be proven wrong if we could actually get conclusive results. However, unless you have a lot of time and a lot of money, I think getting conclusive results will prove quite difficult. (Plus, then what would we talk about?)

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Reply by gregt, Aug 29.

You don't get conclusive results but I used to do that at big events, particularly if they were multi-day. For the big consumer events, like the Boston Wine Expo, there would always be some vendor giving you aerators if you used them to pour. So I'd open 2 bottles and pour from both. Once you've done a few of those shows, you realize you need to open all the bottles when you have time, which is before anyone shows up, so once in a while I'd decant a few and put them back into their bottles. Anyway, you end up with the same wine having been decanted or not or aerated or not for various lengths of time.

I would usually give the aerators away at the end of the show. I wouldn't have if they really made a dif.

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Reply by AnActualGenius, Aug 29.

I use an aerator with wines that aren't "serious". Might just be superstitious of me though

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Reply by winetastesveryfine, Aug 30.

Doing an experiment sounds like a great idea indeed, I'll see when I can get an aerator and use it in class.

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Reply by EMark, Aug 30.

ATTENTION SNOOTHERS:  EMark has conceded to the world of gadgetry.  After taking much heat from various people, I have procured a SmartPhone--Apple 4S.  Mrs. EMark insisted that we had to help the struggling AT&T and Apple Corporations, and she picked an Apple 5S for herself.

I am now able to ignore e-mails on another device.

I've had this thing for two days, now, and I just realized that I have no idea what its ring sounds like.  Maybe I'll call myself.

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Reply by outthere, Aug 30.

It's an iPhone Mark. The fact that is made by Apple makes it "smart" without having to convince the public like the other manufacturers have to do by calling it a smart phone. ;) Congratulations.

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 30.

Nice Mark, good to have another set of eyes that wont have issues with my pictures.

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Reply by jamessulis, Sep 1.

                                              

I use an Aerator

The reason?

So I don't have to wash the Decanter.


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