Taste is what we are looking for. What is wine without the perfect taste and aroma. Life has very few moments for even one glass of bad tasting wine. So how do you get that rich taste and flavor in wine. Simple, aerate the wine. Too short an answer, I agree. So let us understand first what does aerating wine mean. It means to let wine 'breathe', exposing wine to the surrounding air, and allowing air to mingle with the wine. It is also called decanting. Now you are likely to ask questions like why do people aerate or oxygenate wine, and should I do it? What kind of wines need aeration and for how long? And more. Hold on to all these questions. We are going to discuss many more interesting facts about aerating wine, here.
Why to Aerate Wine
As discussed earlier, we know that aerating is to mix some air, let it breathe. It is done so that the wine tastes better. Mixing it with air opens up the flavors and aroma, enhancing the taste, and making it more enjoyable. Once you expose wine to air, simulation of wine molecules takes place, further mixing it with air, and also warming it.
Other reasons to aerate wine are:
- Tannin is a chemical substance that is found in wines, that makes wine an astringent, a tart like flavor that makes the lips/mouth pucker.
- In some wines, specially young wines, the tannin may be harsh and strong, and may overpower the rich taste of the wine. In case of older wines, tannin gradually softens and merges with taste with age.
- Sometimes, a little aerating helps to get rid of the weird, sad, and unpleasant smell/aroma in the bottle that lingers after uncorking it.
Aerating wine is not just uncorking the bottle and letting it sit for some time. There is much less scope for the wine to breathe in this case, so this method is as good as not aerating wine. This process is just like art, that will get perfection when all the aspects of doing it the right way and for the right time are understood.
Let us check ways to aerate wine with different techniques.
- Glass: To aerate a single glass of wine, pour it in the glass and taste it first. If it tastes very harsh, you might want to get rid of some tannin and increase the flavor. Simply swirl the wine in the glass. Now sip again and taste. Swirl again if you feel the taste should smoothen more. Make sure you taste after every swirl and stop once it gets the rich flavor.
- A Whole Bottle: If you wish to aerate large quantity of wine, you will have to pour it in a large vessel, like a decanter, a large bowl, pitcher, etc. now let it settle for sometime for aeration.
Pouring wine in a decanter is a traditional way of aerating it. However, there are a variety of aerators available in the market today. Listed below area few of them.
- Pour Through: These aerators produce a vigorous wine mixing effect. They use the principle of Bernoulli for this. For example the Vinturi Essential or Vino2 aerators. The wine flows from a chamber like larger top bowl of this aerator and passes through a narrow path of the aerator, here suction is created and there is a small air hole and that allows the air to mix with the wine. When it exits from the bottom more aeration takes place giving you smooth and rich wine in minimum time. You can pour the wine directly in wine carafes or wine glasses.
- Wine Funnels: They have the function like of a normal funnel. They work very similar to pour through aerators, however, they do not have the suction created as there is no air hole to help it. Even though the name sounds basic, you can get a variety of these funnels with stylish designs. Some of them even have air holes and come with sediment strainers as well.
Aerating Different Types of Wine
There are few wines that actually enhance taste and flavor by aeration. Most of the red wines, some dessert wines, and few white wines need aeration, while other wines can be enjoyed without aerating in desirable temperatures.
- Young Red Wines: The younger the wine, the more it needs aeration. By young wines we mean wines that are 7 years and younger. These wines taste better when aerated. They need about 1-2 hours of aeration, however you can taste them after very half hour to check if it has softened. Wines like Cabernet Sauvignons, Bordeaux, and most of the wines from northern Rhône Valley, and many Italian wines taste the best after aeration.
- White Wines : Few good and dry white wines benefit from aeration. In most of the white wines, 15-20 minutes of aeration is sufficient. Wines like full-bodied white Burgundies, white Bordeaux, and Alsace whites taste better after aeration.
- Old Red Wines: For most of these wines, only a few minutes of aeration will bring out the flavor and taste. Wines that are 5-8 years and older need aeration on personal choice, you can decide after tasting if you wish to aerate it for a few minutes and more. They flavors will drastically sober down with excess aeration.
- Vintage Port Wine: Some of these young vintage port wines are overpowered with tannin. They may need hours of aeration before consumption. As they are also filled with sediments, you might want to keep the bottle upright and allow the sediment to settle at the base for a few days.
- Other Exceptions: Wines like Sparkling wine, light red wines like Zinfandels, Tawny ports. Less tannin containing wines like Pinot Noirs, Beaujolais, Burgundies, Côtes du Rhônes. Italian reds like Barberas, Dolcettos and lighter Chiantis are best consumed without aeration. Also inexpensive red wines (around $10 or so) mostly do not need aeration.
It is useful to be aware of all facts about how to aerate wine, and the impact aeration has on various wines. So have your glass filled to perfection, sip away to the fairly called 'Drink made by God for the soul'. And for all the wine lovers out there, here is a toast ..."À votre santé!"