Aerating and Decanting wine

I wanted to talk about my aerator that I love so much and did some research. I learned a few things that I wanted to share...

Though commonly used as synonym of each other, aerating and decanting serve two different purposes. Aerating is to breathe a bottle of wine by exposing it to air; whereas decanting is to filter sediments.

Aeration (airing)Aeration is the best way to open up young wines. It can make younger wines more balanced and smoother by softening tannins. In addition, aeration reduces the high carbon dioxide level often found in young wines and the accompanying odor that masks their true aroma. Most reds improve greatly with aeration; for example, young Cabernet Sauvignon and Barolo.
The key to aeration is timing! A young, intense, tannic red might need up to 2 hours to open up. An hour is great for a mature, full bodied, complex red. As for aged wines (older than 15 years), they are highly volatile. Do not aerate them for more than minutes.

Aerating methodsUncorking a bottle of wine and letting it sit for an hour is surely the worst way to aerate the wine. Not only can you not drink the wine for an hour, the method is ineffective. Even after many hours, the narrow bottle neck still prevents much air from opening up the wine.

There are more effective ways to aerate a wine
1. Most wine lovers use a decanter and an aerating funnel. A decanter is a glass pitcher with a wide opening. The increased surface area allows faster aeration. The use of an aerating funnel will eliminate spilling and better airing the wine in the pouring process.
2. The faster way is an aerator made by Vinturi. I absolutely love mine! There are other brands I have seen but they don’t seem like the same quality that Vinturi has.
3. If you are not in a hurry to drink your bottle, there is always the no-accessory-required wine glass method. Just let the wine aerate slowly in your glass.

Aerating Tips
1. Wines with high tannin level require more aeration time. For example, it is best to aerate a young Cabernet Sauvignon for at least an hour.
2. Aeration can remove “bottle stink” – the odor that is apparent when the bottle is opened but disappears quickly once aired.

DecantingContrary to popular beliefs, wines with sediments are not necessarily bad wines. Rather, common and lower-priced wines are often filtered to reduce sediments. Higher quality wines, on the other hand, are lightly (or not at all) filtered. The degree of sediment also depends on grapes, Pinot Noir and Grenache for example will have little sediment. Dark, full-bodied grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah can start shredding sediments in a couple years. In the past there were more difficult and longer time consuming methods to decanting but nowadays it can be easily done with the help of an aerating funnel with a filter. Pouring wine down the funnel not only aerates the wine but also removes undesired sediments, which is why aerating and decanting are becoming interchanging terms these days.



Copyright © 2013 The Chicago Wino