Why Do We Aerate Wine?
I bet you are wondering why you should bother aerating your wine. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ve probably heard terms like “aeration” and “decantation.” Like many people, you may find the whole idea a bit confusing. But the truth is, there’s a straightforward logic behind these fancy phrases:
Your wine has been cooped up in a bottle. Now you are letting your wine breath.
So why is this important?
In this article, we dive into the science behind aeration and how it can help you enjoy the full-bodied taste of wine. You’ll also see the best way to aerate wine so that every sip provides a symphony of exciting aromas and flavors. And we will introduce you to our favorite low-cost way to aerate wine the right way.
What Exactly Is Aeration?
Simply put, aeration is the process of exposing your wine to air. Wine contains hundreds of compounds that react with oxygen through the process called oxidation. What’s more, many of those compounds evaporate, meaning that they turn from liquid into a gas and leave your wine.
You don’t have to be a chemist to understand the benefits of these processes. In a nutshell, proper aeration allows the undesirable compounds of wine to disperse, letting the wine express its full taste and smell.
The main reason to aerate wine is to let it release these compounds as they don’t contribute to a pleasant drinking experience. Instead, they’re generally used to protect your wine from going bad.
Without aeration, it’s tough to notice the subtle notes that different elements offer. Instead, your wine will be overpowered by volatile compounds, which will rob it of its rich flavor and aroma. In this context, the reason to aerate wine is to let it “settle” into its true character and taste.
However, not all wines can benefit from this process.
Which Wines Need Aeration?
As a general rule, aeration is mostly reserved for red wines. However, there are a few groups of whites that share similar traits with their red counterparts. To ensure that there’s a reason to aerate wine of your choice, here’s a brief overview of some groups that can benefit from the process the most:
1. Young, Tannic Red Wines
Wines contain the most tannins while they’re young. Tannins are the compounds that give the wine a mouth-drying, astringent effect. Naturally, there’s a good reason to aerate wine with a high tannic profile. Aeration mellows tannins and gives your wine a softer feel.
Some of the wines with the highest tannin concentration include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
These wines have a long aging process, and aeration helps speed it up. Your reds can have a more mature, rich expression of subtle tastes.
2. Aged, Sedimented Red Wines
While aging gives your wine a smoother, more abundant taste, there’s a point at which you’ll notice some shortcomings of the process. Tannins and other elements will start binding and solidifying, leaving visible sediment.
In most cases, this occurs after 8-10 years, depending on factors like the varietal involved and the storage conditions.
3. Dry, Heavy White Wines
As mentioned, there are whites with characteristics similar to the majority of reds. This goes for full-bodied wines with a dense mouthfeel such as:
- White Bordeaux
- Young Corton-Charlemagne
As a rule of thumb, every white wine that doesn’t seem to yield a rich aroma or taste right out of the bottle could do with some aerating. You’d be surprised by the difference that it can make.
How to Aerate Wine?
Many people think that simply opening the bottle is enough to let their wine release its full flavor and aroma. But this isn’t the best way to aerate wine. The bottleneck is too narrow to allow oxygen to enter the whole bottle and ensure evaporation. At best, you can expect to soften your wine’s roughest edges to a small degree.
This is why many enthusiasts use aerators. Affordable options like AirVinum’s aerator pourer do a great job "opening" your wine without breaking the bank. Because of its wider opening, this aerator can allow up to 40% more oxygen to enter your wine and it provides a nice flow from your bottle into your glass.
As for sedimented wines, the first thing you need to do is let all sediment fall to the bottom in case you’ve been storing your wine sideways. This can take up to a few days to ensure that all sediment has settled.
Then, all you have to do is gently pour the wine to ensures that sediment doesn’t get agitated and mixed with the wine. Once your wine is free of sediment, let it sit in a glass for a few minutes, and you’re good to go.
Let Your Wine Breathe
Now that you understand how aeration works and the main reasons to aerate wine, go ahead and give it a try. This process is effortless and can make a world of difference.
Again, you might not get the full effect by simply opening your bottle. The best way to aerate wine is to use a decanter or aerator like the AirVinum option. It can significantly improve your drinking experience and let you discover the notes you haven’t noticed before.