Aerators are all the rage this year. You've probably seen them in wine stores, winery tasting rooms, or wine gift catalogs. I've certainly found them in my mail and in my e-mail, as producers and publicists have implored me to write about them. Competition among wine aerators is as fierce as the finals for the House Cup at Hogwarts.
So I've obliged with this week's column in The Washington Post, with brief descriptions of the Soirée, Vinturi, Wine Swirl, Ravi Wine Chiller and the Breathable Glass. But I have to admit, I'm decidedly indecisive about these contraptions.
Aerators are substitutes for decanting a young wine an hour or more ahead of drinking it and may even help simulate the effects of a year or two in your cellar. They offer instant gratification and a sense of security that we won't be wasting our money by drinking our wines too soon.
Intellectually, this makes sense. Many wines indisputably taste better after being exposed to air. Depending on the wine, this improvement can occur in as little as 10 minutes or it could take several hours for the vino to strut its stuff. If you've ever fallen in love with a wine on the last sip, you know what I mean – you've been aerating the wine as you repeatedly tipped the bottle to pour. Aerators offer the chance to capture that improvement with the very first sip.
Are these things worth the money? People swear by them. I've tried several, typically comparing a glass of a wine straight from the bottle with one that had been through an aerator. Sometimes I noticed a difference, sometimes I didn't, and I did not always like the wine better after it went through an aerator. But there are other reasons I'd rather spend my money on wine. Wine is not about instant gratification (well, maybe that first sip of Champagne). I enjoy tasting a wine throughout its evolution in the glass; why wish away those pleasant moments by speeding the wine along? Aerating a wine is easy – it only takes a little patience and maybe a decanter. These gadgets prey on our love of toys and our fear of wine.
So, thumbs sideways, and trending down.
Photo: The Vinturi Wine Aerator, from www.vinturi.com.