Q & A: Do Those Wine Aerators Work?

Question from Sean: Do those wine aerators work? 

Reply: Hi, Sean! Thanks for writing. This is a question that’s come up a lot over the past few years. 

Let me tell you about a little experiment I did. I got together a bunch of friends who are probably more experienced with wine than a lot of people. I served them 2 wines, blind. One was poured fresh out of the bottle and the other went through a wine aerator.

Their job was to tell me which glass had been aerated and, also, which glass they preferred.

You guessed it. The results were all over the board. Nearly half the group was wrong about which one had been aerated and there was no clear preference. For those of you who insist on a scientific, carefully controlled approach, this wasn’t it. This was done very casually. But, nevertheless, it’s hard not to conclude that the aerators probably don’t work.

The thing is, at least the most popular example, the Vinturi, really sounds like it works! You get this satisfying slurping sound as the wine goes into the glass. And, you can’t over-emphasize the power of suggestion. I’m pretty sure that for those who think it works, it does and lots of people swear by it! But, after this experiment I wasn’t inclined to invest.

I know what does work: Get that wine into the glass, no more than a generous 1/3 full, and swirl it! And, decanting the wine works well, too – it just takes longer. If you want to hedge your bets, aerate the wine into a decanter, then swirl the heck out of it 😉 

I’d also like to say that part of the enjoyment, for me, is to open the wine and watch it evolve over the evening. If you do all this spade work up front, you lose part of this pleasure. 

So, Sean, if I were you, I’d spend the money on a bottle of wine instead of an aerator. Then, just decant it an hour or two ahead or give it a good swirl. Cheers! 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Q & A: Do Those Wine Aerators Work?

  1. At home, we use a cheap plastic 3 Liter beer pitcher for quick decanting, which really can loosen up a very young wine or blow off extra sulfer. We used to grab our expensive "Genie bottle" Riedel decanter, but it was a pain to pour from and cleaning wasn’t any more fun. I agree that most of the wine gizmos work psychologically more than scientifically. But, hey, if it makes wine more fun, have at it!

  2. Nancy Hawks Miller

    Hi, Jon. How nice to hear from you! That’s a great idea – People don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fancy decanter – a pitcher works great! Cheers!

  3. Nancy Hawks Miller

    Got a great question from Bob: Nancy… Just recently discovered you on my iPhone via Stitcher.A follow-up to your aerator podcast – From fine wine events to casual dinner parties to larger family gatherings, wine is always served in our family and sooner or later discussions and “debates” about that beverage pop up. We open and wait, decant, swirl, aerate – what about “shake?” No one can answer that question. We shake other cocktails and juices vigorously to introduce air which almost always improves flavor profile. What is so precious about wine molecules that might preclude that? Maybe it’s the perception that that one has “lost it” and gone from a wine snob to a wine slob. Is there science to back this up?Hi, Bob. I’m so glad you found my blog and hope it’s of use or interest to you! Your question brought back fond memories of a good friend and collegue, who also happens to be a winemaker, in the old days when I was at Robert Mondavi Winery. He’d come off of a tour or seminar, get a partial bottle of Fume Blanc out of the fridge and shake it like a martini before pouring himself a glass! I’ve always assumed drinks are shaken to mix up the various ingredients, but there’s no reason not to shake a young wine. I’ve always said that young wines love abuse! It’s the old ones that need the kid glove treatment – if the wine is thinking about going over the hill, aeration will just encourage it. The other thing I forgot to mention and that I’ll add now, is that to me, part of the pleasure of enjoying a bottle of wine is watching it evolve over a few hours. Decanting before serving or running it though one of these gadgets takes that away. Thanks so much for writing. I hope you’ll visit often! Cheers! Nancy

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