The 10 Best Wine Aerators
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Believe it or not, even the best wines need a little bit of extra care before consumption. Allowing any variety to breathe brings out the true flavor of the beverage and allows its aromatic properties to shine. The wine aerators in this list have been carefully selected to match budgets of all sizes and are guaranteed to enhance the quality of your next glass. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wine aerator on Amazon.
What Happens When Wine Is Aerated
All of these compounds are volatile, meaning they quickly evaporate when exposed to oxygen.
The purpose of aerating wine is to induce chemical reactions that can both smooth out its taste and open it up a bit.
The purpose of aerating wine is to induce chemical reactions that can both smooth out its taste and open it up a bit. Two processes happen when wine is aerated: oxidation and evaporation. Introducing oxygen to wine allows the aromas to become more noticeable and will soften its mouthfeel. This is due to the way oxygen breaks down the tannins. Tannins are what cause that harsh, somewhat dry sensation that some wines produce on the cheeks and tongue.
Some oxidation is good for wine, but over-oxidation is bad. Over-oxidation of wine causes it to degrade, resulting in a loss of flavor and aroma. It can also cause it to become more acidic. Ideally, we want to halt the oxidation of wine while in the bottle, and initiate it once the bottle is opened. Doing so allows the wine to stay in good condition while it ages, and reach its optimal flavor levels when we imbibe it. To prevent oxidation when in the bottle, winemakers often add sulfites and sulfides. These compounds act as preservatives.
While sulfites and sulfides do a good job of preserving wine and preventing oxidation, they do have some unwanted side effects. They may cause wine to have some unpleasant aromas, like those of burnt matchsticks, rotten eggs, or onions. This is why we want to induce evaporation after we have opened a bottle of wine and before we drink it. Evaporation can rid wine of some of its undesirable compounds, like sulfides, sulfates, ethanol. All of these compounds are volatile, meaning they quickly evaporate when exposed to oxygen. Ridding the wine of the undesirable volatile compounds allows the desirable aromatic and flavorful ones to become more expressed, resulting in wine that tastes and smells better.
It is not just the added compounds we want to evaporate from wine after opening the bottle, it is also the by-products of the chemical reactions that take place while wine is aging. No matter how many preservatives winemakers add to wine, it will always undergo slight oxidation when in the bottle. The longer a wine ages, the more gasses that will be released inside of the bottle. Aerating wine after opening it gives these off-putting gasses a chance to dissipate from the liquid.
Do You Really Need A Wine Aerator?
Now that we have a thorough understanding of what wine aerators do, let's determine if you truly need one. Obviously, we want to enjoy our wine to the fullest. That means drinking it when the flavors and aromas are at their optimal levels. To ensure that we are doing this, we must give tight wines a chance to breathe and open up, and give overly tannic wines a chance to soften. Simply opening a bottle of wine and letting it sit on the counter isn't enough to cause proper aeration. The narrow neck of a wine bottle doesn't allow for enough oxygen to flow through for proper evaporation. To effectively aerate wine, we have three options: a decanter, a glass, or an aerator.
Unlike decanters and the wine glass method, aerators aerate wine in seconds.
Decanters are vessels designed to hold wine, and sometimes other liquids, while they aerate. These days, they are most often made from glass or crystal, but they have been made from clay, bronze, and other materials throughout history. They are usually big enough to accommodate an entire bottle of wine and have a very wide bottom. Pouring wine into a wide-bottomed decanter allows for more of it to come into contact with the air, promoting quicker oxidization and evaporation. Depending on the type of wine, it may need to sit in a decanter for as little as 30 minutes or as much as three hours.
Those who don't have decanter can replicate the process of decanting wine by simply pouring it into a wide-mouthed red wine glass. As with a decanter, properly aerating wine in a red wine glass may takes as little as 30 minutes or as much as three hours. While it may not have the same aesthetic value of a decanter, it can be just as effective.
Aerators are designed to have the wine poured through them right before serving. They generally come in two styles: handheld and those that attach to the wine bottle itself, but there are some very elaborate freestanding models out there, as well. Unlike decanters and the wine glass method, aerators aerate wine in seconds. The wine will be at an optimal drinking level immediately after passing through an aerator.
So, do you really need a wine aerator? The answer is no, you don't. If you have the patience to let your wine sit for an hour or so in a decanter or wine glass, then an aerator is not needed. On the other hand, if you are like most of us, and generally open up a bottle of wine minutes before you plan on drinking it, then an aerator is your only option to ensure your are drinking your wine at its very best.
Tips On Which Wines To Aerate
Despite what many people may think, not all wines require aeration. It is important to know which wines require it, and which are better off without being aerated.
Any young full-bodied red is a good candidate for aeration.
Any young full-bodied red is a good candidate for aeration. They will often still be very tannic, as they haven't had a chance to age in the bottle. Aerating them will ensure the subtle flavor notes aren't overpowered by the tannins. On the other end of the spectrum, aged red wines that have visible sediment should be aerated, as well. They are better served by aeration in a decanter, though, as this can help remove sediments in addition to opening up the flavor a bit.
Dry, full-bodied white wines can also benefit from aeration. These will usually be white wines that share some similar traits with reds, like having a heavy mouth feel or a higher amount of tannins. Some examples of white varieties that often need aeration are white bordeaux and burgundies and Alsace wines.
Vintage ports are also good candidates for aeration. These are ports that have been aged for somewhere around 20 years. Letting them aerate a bit after opening can help their flavors develop and allow the unwanted aging by-products to dissipate.
Statistics and Editorial Log