When people first learn how to taste wine, they learn to swirl it in their glass. One reason for doing this is to expand the wine’s surface area, letting it “breathe” by increasing its contact with the air. This process, called aeration, can help to release the wine’s aromas and flavors to enhance the tasting experience.
Aerating your wine is often the best way to enjoy its full flavors and there are several ways to do it. Many people use an aerator or decanter to maximize the wine’s surface area and oxygen exposure. These devices accomplish the same function but use different processes and are best suited for different situations.
What Is an Aerator?
A wine aerator is a small device that aerates wine as it pours from the bottle. You most often attach or insert an aerator into the neck of the wine bottle or hold it in your hand. Designs range from simple glass bulbs with funnels to electric devices that are both aerators and wine pourers. Some aerators disperse the wine through different spouts during the pour, while others introduce air into the device as the wine travels through.
Regardless of which style of aerator you use, it exposes the wine to air as you pour the bottle, rapidly increasing the wine’s oxygen exposure. This process releases flavor and aroma complexities faster and more efficiently than simply swirling the pour in a glass. It also helps to soften the wine’s tannins and allow fruity and floral aromas to shine. You know your wine has enough aeration when you see bubbles as soon as it hits the glass.
What Is a Decanter?
A decanter is a container typically made of glass or crystal that aerates wine before you’re ready to serve it. Decanters may have a straight or curved funnel and a small, medium or broad base. Some may have decorative elements that help further increase the wine’s exposure to air. Decanters aerate the wine as you pour it in and while it holds the wine.
To use a decanter, slowly pour the bottle’s contents into the funnel or neck. The wine will make its way over the interior surfaces, opening up as it travels. You can let the wine rest for as long as it needs to aerate and serve from the decanter instead of the bottle.
What Is the Difference Between an Aerator and Decanter?
While aerators and decanters aerate the wine by exposing it to oxygen, these devices have unique characteristics and benefits. Compare a wine aerator versus a decanter by considering their differences:
Mature wines sometimes contain sediments — grainy solids left over from fermentation. While sediments aren’t usually an issue in younger wines, you must take special care with older wines. One advantage of decanters is that they allow you to see sediments as you pour from the bottle and prevent them from reaching your glass.
Sommeliers use a flashlight or candle to avoid pouring sediments from mature red or white wines into a decanter. Illuminating the bottle’s neck as they pour lets them see the sediments so they know when to stop.
The optimal temperature for wine storage is different than the optimal temperature for serving it. While many people use dual-zone refrigerated wine coolers to mitigate this issue, there may still be times when the wine you want is too cold for serving.
If a white wine comes out of your cellar too chilled, a decanter is the best choice to bring the wine up to the right temperature. A decanter’s larger surface area helps gradually increase the wine’s temperature as it aerates.
One of the most significant wine aerator advantages is its speed and ease. Because you attach an aerator to the bottle as you pour, you get nearly instant aeration right into your glass. This feature makes aerators ideal for casual dinners or when you need to increase your wine’s air exposure quickly.
A decanter is an excellent choice if you have more time to aerate your wine. Wine can rest for multiple hours in a decanter without spoiling, so you can pour the wine hours before you plan to serve your guests. However, the flavors of older wines can begin to fade if you decant them for too long, so it’s best to decant these wines immediately before serving.
You might also use a decanter when your wine needs more time to aerate. For example, medium- to full-bodied red wines with high tannin often need to aerate longer.
Another difference between aerators and decanters is their presentation. While some aerators are more visually attractive than others, a decanter provides a more sophisticated, refined presentation. Pouring your wine from an embellished crystal decanter enhances your guests’ wine-drinking experience, honors wine’s rich history and creates ambiance for a dinner party or event.
Do You Need an Aerator, Decanter or Both?
Whether you need an aerator or a decanter depends on your goals. Here are a few considerations to remember when deciding between an aerator and a decanter:
- Occasion: If you primarily plan to drink wine casually, an aerator will work just fine for helping your wines breathe and illuminating their complex flavor notes. Aerators are easy and quick to use, whether for one person or a crowd. If you enjoy the choreography of decanting wine and the beauty of the glassware or want to create a unique wine-tasting experience, a decanter is a perfect choice.
- Wine choices: Decanters tend to be the best option for aerating expensive, mature wines. If you prefer less expensive wines, an aerator will serve your purposes.
- Ease of cleaning: It’s essential to clean aerators and decanters regularly. When it comes to ease of cleaning, aerators are the clear winner. These devices are smaller and simpler, so rinsing them with warm water is easy. Decanters’ size and curved shapes can make them more challenging to clean.
- Price: With some research, you can find aerators and decanters to meet any budget. However, decanters tend to be more expensive because they are larger and have a greater variety of styles. Some truly beautiful and unique decanters can cost several hundred dollars. Aerators tend to be the more affordable option, although you can also find high-end aerators for sale.
Find Wine Aerators at Marketview Liquor
Aerating and decanting can both bring out the subtleties in the flavors and aromas of your wine. Deciding whether to use an aerator or a decanter depends on your specific wine, time allotment, wine temperature and the ambiance you intend to create.
When you need a wine aerator to bring out the complexities in any glass, turn to Marketview Liquor. Besides our wide selection of wines, Marketview Liquor has wine gifts and accessories, including wine aerators and stoppers. Whether you want to add an aerator to your collection of wine accessories or find a gift for a special person in your life, Marketview Liquor has you covered.