Aeration is often touted as a ‘must-do’ for wine enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their wine – but what is it really all about?
Aeration is the process of letting a wine ‘breath’. When you pour wine, the wine is suddenly exposed to oxygen. The level of oxidation that occurs can play a role in how the wine actually tastes – it allows the wine’s aromas to open up and the flavour profile to soften and improve. The difference in aroma and taste will vary with types of wine, age of the vintage, and level of tannins. Reds usually require more aeration than whites, older more than young, and wine with higher tannins more than those with fewer tannins. The more dense and concentrated a wine is, the more it will benefit from aeration.
When in doubt, the best method for deciding to aerate is trial and error. Take a half glass pour to taste the wine and make sure it is good, i.e. not corked, and then let it sit for fifteen to twenty minutes. Swirl the wine in the glass to let some air mix with the wine. Breathe in the aroma once more and taste again to see if you can find a noticeable difference in the bouquet and flavour profile. When you are swirling the wine, you are doing what is called ‘volitizing the esters’. Esters are chemical compounds derived from specific acids, and by activating them, the aromas and tastes are often brought out.
Make sure you are letting the wine sit in the glass, and not the bottle. A bottle has very little surface area for the wine and oxygen to meet, so it does not work well to aerate. And if you decide aerating has improved your wine experience tremendously, you may want to invest in a Venturi pourer or a wine decanter. A Venturi pourer is a bottle attachment that allows you to aerate while you pour. And wine decanters are large vessels, usually made of glass and often beautifully designed, that you can pour a full bottle of wine in to and let sit to aerate. You can read more about the other benefits of decanting in our previous blog post HERE.
Want to learn more about the process of aeration? We suggest trial and error! Try it out the next time you open a bottle of Vanessa Vineyard Meritage or Syrah and see the benefits for yourself. These wines are bold and full-bodied, which makes them excellent candidates for aeration. Decanting our wines for as little as twenty minutes can help bring out the bold flavour.