Are you one of those who have heard vague rumors about the interaction of stored wine and how exposure to air affects it. And did you never really get around to know what exactly that was all about? Don’t worry, we were in the same boat, but once you learn how simple it is, you won’t believe it took you this long to find out how to aerate wine works.
There are many benefits of wine aeration before drinking it. Modern wine aerators simply need to be attached to the nozzle of your wine bottle for instant results. In this aeration article, we’ll go into greater detail about how interaction with oxygen affects particular wines. Not all wines benefit from being aerated. It is important to be careful since mistakes can lead to the dreaded outcome, we are taking the extra step actually worsens your wine and makes it undrinkable. We’ll explain everything you need to know so that you can avoid any mishaps, and become a pro at aerating wine in no time.
Also take a look at “How to Store Wine After Opening” to make sure you’re putting your wine away correctly after drinking.
How Exactly Does Aeration Work?
Once you uncork your stored wine and the air rushes to meet the wine, two things happen, evaporation and oxidation. While colloquial references to the process generally talk of only the latter, the former has several advantages of its own.
Don’t have anything to uncork your wine with? Check out “How to Uncork Wine Without a Corkscrew” for tricks and tips.
Evaporation helps remove some of the more volatile elements of the wine. It helps do away with some of the medicinal odors that might emanate from a recently opened bottle. It also eliminates sulfites from it as well. Sulfites are easily recognizable due to their rotten egg smell. That is why it is often utilized as a reagent in natural cooking gas around the world to indicate leaks. For wine, these sulfites are added to prevent unwanted microbial growth. As well as to slow down the natural process of oxidation that occurs even while wine is sealed.
Also, here’s a Simple Solution To Remove Sulfites From Wine, if you’re having trouble with sulfites.
Coming to oxidation, the reason this process is relatively popular is that it enhances the flavor of wine, sometimes drastically. Sommeliers will often swirl wine before taking a sip for the same reason, to oxidize the wine. However, as mentioned earlier, not all wines need to be aerated. While young red wines benefit the most from exposure to air before consumption, most white wines do not benefit from this. Many articles on the internet suggest that all white wines are unsuited to being aerated, but this is not true. To find out more, read on to the next section.
Also, be sure to check out “How Long Does White Wine Last?” to see how long that bottle of Rosé will last stored away.
Aerating Red and White Wines (Young and Old Ones)
The main reason red wine is more commonly aerated is the presence of a compound called tannin. This red wine ingredient gives the wine its bitterness and sticky sensation from its dry nature. Aerating red wine neutralizes the harshness of these tannins to some extent, letting the other notes and flavors embedded in the wine shine through. This is also one of the key reasons why so many prefer to age their wine since the breakdown of tannins gives the wine a richer flavor. Modern aerators aim to replicate the same process. They try to do this in a matter of seconds, as opposed to the years and decades it takes to do naturally.
Going from this, it is easy to see why young red wines stand to benefit the most from aeration. The tannins in these wines have undergone the least natural breakdown, and need air exposure to help it along. White wines don’t contain tannins, which is why some suggest not to aerate any white wine. However, doing so can be beneficial in the case of some fuller-bodied whites. A few popular wines in this category are the Bordeaux, Burgundies, Corton-Charlemagne, Alsace, and even some heavier Chardonnays. Sometimes, if you find that your wine is too chilled, aerating it will help it bring your drink to a more appropriate temperature.
Age of Wine
After red wine and white wine, the factor to consider before deciding which wine to aerate is its age. Older wine, that is to say, a wine which has been aged for at least ten years has oxidized enough naturally to not require any further help. Old wine is generally more unstable to aerate and will turn brown in the glass far quicker than younger wine. To aerate it further will only accelerate this process, so you’ll want to be careful with what wines you aerate. However, you will want to do something called decanting before serving your old wine, and we’ll explain the difference in the next section.
The Difference Between Decanting and Aerating
This can be a little confusing because technically, decanting is also a method of aerating. However, in the case of older wines, the main purpose of decanting is to separate stored wine from the sediments that have built up over the years. These sediments can appear as particles in your mouth and alter the taste of wine, and one needs to be careful about letting them stay in the bottle.
Decanting is also a slower way of aerating wine. This is done by emptying the wine from its storage vessel and emptying it into a large container. The wine then simply sits for a few hours before being thoroughly aerated. However, this is too long, and modern aerators can be attached to the tip of your bottle for instant aeration. Check out this amazing decanter we found just perfect for decanting.
There you have it. Wine aeration does take several attempts and many hours of practice to get right. Oxidation and evaporation are tricky processes to control, but manipulating them in the right way can result in better, richer wine. Aerators are a one-time investment that can often make a wine taste of quality that is much higher than the price the bottle commanded, and are a worthy addition to any wine lovers arsenal.
Thanks for reading! Let us know in the comments below if you prefer decanting your wine or if you are already using an aerator at home. Also check out other helpful wine tips like “How to Drink Wine the Correct Way“, “How to Make Wine Taste Better“, or “How to Use a Wine Opener Like a Pro“.
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