When I evaluate a bottle of wine, I usually take notes over time on how the wine smells and tastes. If you read my wine reviews, then you know that wine does indeed change over time. The longer wine is exposed to air, the more the aromas and flavors will change - typically in a good way. Swirling the wine in your glass is one method for aerating wine. If you have time to wait, a method for slowly aerating wine is to open a bottle an hour or more before you pour or to decant the bottle. But what if you can't wait?
"Who the hell waits an hour to drink a bottle of wine?" - Anonymous, on how long I may let a bottle breathe.
What does aeration do?
As soon as a bottle of wine is opened, oxidation begins to occur. While oxidation is bad for a sealed bottle of wine, it is actually beneficial to an open bottle of wine. Oxidation releases the aromas and flavors in a bottle of wine, especially red wines which have more tannin and complexity. You can think of wine being compressed in the bottle, as soon as it is open, then it begins to "de-compress" and the aromas and flavors "expand." Aeration speeds up the process.
Great care is taken to protect wine from oxygen during the production and bottling cycles. Oxygen exposure can prematurely oxidize/age wine. The cork on a bottle of wine, or screw cap, protects the wine from oxygen while allowing for minimal Oxygen Transfer Rates (OTR). Which allows a wine to age gracefully and last for years in a bottle.
When you aerate wine, you are adding oxygen to the wine. The intent is to help express the aromas and flavors of the wine. Another benefit is to soften the tannin, which will be more obvious in younger wines. This is more important to drinkers of red wine.
Do you aerate your wine?
I have visited tasting rooms where an aerator was used at the tasting. The difference in how a wine tastes with an aerator and without an aerator can be significant in my experience. For me, red wine is usually not ready to drink at opening. It needs time to breathe and to oxidize a little. I'd be interested in knowing about your experiences with wine aerators. Leave comments below.
Should you aerate your wine?
That's an interesting question. If you review wines like I do, then by default you cannot aerate the wine you are reviewing. An aerator will change the way the wine drinks, which I'll go into further as I evaluate a bottle of red wine with these aerators.
I have several different wine aerators I use at home. Now I have two VinoMax wine aerators. VinoMax is a new to me company, and this is my first time using their VinoMax Handheld Aerator and their VinoMax Pourer Aerator. They sent both of these products for me to evaluate.
Let's look at how the VinoMax triple aerators performed.
VinoMax Triple Aerators Product Evaluations
Premise: Triple aeration will quickly improve the taste of a glass of wine, without decanting or waiting for the wine to breathe. VinoMax is an enclosed system that utilizes the air in the neck of the bottle and the atmosphere within the aerator to aerate wine.
Wine: Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2009 Merlot GRAVITY Estate Grown, ABV: 14.5%, closure natural cork, Washington State, Destiny Ridge vineyards, Horse Heaven Hills AVA.
Wine Keeper: WineKeeper Basic Nitrogen Keeper (750ml), #7760 Wine Preserving Dispensing System, 100% Nitrogen. Provided consistent pours minimizing oxygen exposure.
Outline: Evaluate the flavor of a bottle of wine protected by a nitrogen dispensing system.
- First test: Taste wine as is without aeration.
- Second test: Taste wine after use of VinoMax Handheld Aerator.
- Third test: Taste wine after use of VinoMax Pourer Aerator (required removal of Wine Keeper).
- Results: Did the flavor of the wine change? Compare non-aerated to aerated pours.
"The PATENTED triple aeration process draws air into its chamber and mixes it three times with your wine to add the perfect amount of micro-bubbles to enhance the flavor, bouquet and finish of your red wine. Utilizing extremely small bubbles or drops increases the rate of aeration due to the higher contact surface area of the micro-bubbles, completing the process three times triples the benefits to your wine."
|Keeping the pours consistent.|
1. Wine Pour without Aeration
- Aroma: Berry, hint of candy, whiff smoke/earth.
- Palate: Dark cherry, expressed to front palate, rich, gentle tannin on tongue, tingle mid-palate. Tingle of heat.
- Thoughts: Tasty, but restrained, tannin more prominent on tongue, some heat.
|VinoMax handheld Aerator.|
2. Wine Pour with VinoMax Handheld Aerator
- Aroma: Broad nose, candied, earthy cherry, hint of orange, enticing.
- Palate: Full, softer mouth feel, pleasantly dry on gums and tongue, cherry, dark earthy notes, dark chocolate, smooth medium finish.
- Thoughts: No tingle of heat, no tingle mid-palate. Softer on the palate. Tannin appreciated on gums and tongue. Easy to use. Looked cool and I liked the large size for holding. The provided stand worked well. Should be easy to locate at a party.
|VinoMax Pourer Aerator.|
3. Wine Pour with VinoMax Pourer Aerator
- Aroma: Broad, earthy, cherry, soft candy, hint of orange in background, appealing.
- Palate: Good mouth feel, cherry, orange, slightly earthy, good grip top palate, chocolate, orange, cherry into medium finish. Like.
- Thoughts: For me, best showing of three pours. Although wine dripped off of the VinoMax Pourer Aerator after pouring. Looked cool on the bottle and attached securely. Was not difficult to remove.
|VinoMax Pourer Aerator attached to bottle.|
4. Results Pours and Tastes
There was a noticeable difference in the taste of the wine after aeration with the VinoMax Aerators. Using the VinoMax aerators, the wine was smoother and more expressive and that tingle of heat was not present after aeration. They worked as advertised.
I was surprised that there was a noticeable difference between the two aerators. Of the two, the VinoMax Pourer Aerator which attached directly to the bottle, gave me the best impression of the wine I poured.
Both VinoMax aerators twist apart for easy cleaning. Be careful with the Pourer Aerator, there is a black gasket which can fall out when cleaning. Both of these Aerators have been deemed diswhasher safe.
|VinoMax Pourer Aerator box.|
In short, if you lack the patience or time to decant wine at home, then I suggest you consider the VinoMax Triple Aeration aerators. They will make a noticeable difference in the way your wine smells and tastes. I liked the size and feel of the Handheld Aerator, it was easy to hold and would be a great wine accessory at a party - pass the aerator please. The Pourer Aerator worked best for my palate on the bottle I used, it attached securely and did a wonderful job. Well suited to the style of red wine I enjoy drinking. Recommended.
*note: Aeration is typically applied to bottles of red wine.
**note: Aeration is more effective on full bodied red wine and younger wines especially.
***note: Aeration will not make a "bad" bottle of wine taste better.
****note: Please do not aerate older, vintage bottles of wine. They are delicate.
Where to Buy?
I only tested these aerators on one bottle of red wine. It will be interesting to evaluate other bottles of red and white wines at home. Plus they will be present at my next house party.