to air is human, to forgive? – dat's da wine!

Monday, October 08, 2012

In yesterday’s Wine Adviser column in the Sunday Seattle Times, I took to task a number of wine-related accessories, most particularly the wine aerators. I wrote: “Another category of gadgets that seem pointless to me are the aerators. There are several options, none cheap, and some even claim that your white wine needs to be aerated differently than your red wine. Give me a break!

“Anything that beats the heck out of your wine is running completely against the grain of what the winemaker has so carefully tried to do, which is to batter the wine as little as possible. The stresses of bottling and bouncing around during shipping often put wines through what is aptly-termed bottle shock. The wine goes dumb, sometimes for weeks. So why take a perfectly sound wine, fresh out of the bottle, and put it through a mini-hurricane? Better idea – buy a decanter – the original aeration device.”

At least one reader took the trouble to write a rebuttal.

“Paul, I really enjoyed your column in the Sunday Times. I agree with everything but the aerator comment. My late husband and I were in Parksville, Vancouver Island in 2007 and we discovered the Air au Vin aerator. One travelled in each of our cars, to wine dinners, and into many restaurants where my husband circulated among the tables demonstrating the assets of the aerator. The recommendation from the manufacturer is to aerate the bottle as it is opened, but we found a better result when aeratoring each glass individually. [Don’t you love the word ‘aeratoring’!] The device produces very small bubbles with nothing more than a spring enclosed in black plastic. I am probably one of its best customers having bought many, many aerators for gifts to wineophile friends. One still resides in my glove box so I will always have access to lovely, open wine. I hope you will investigate this aerator and respond to me when you have tested it.”

I have not had the time to investigate, but I will. Nonetheless, I stand by my comments. Aerating a young wine may indeed open it up, but so does decanting. The difference is the speed. Watching and enjoying a wine as it breathes itself open naturally is one of the great pleasures of wine tasting. Pounding the crap out of the wine to go from A to Z without bothering to see the scenery along the way is like going from the first bloom of spring to the last fall color without experiencing summer.

Wine is about patience, from vineyard to vat to barrel to bottle. It seems disrespectful, not to mention self-defeating, to be in such a huge rush to aerate a wine simply because it’s a bit tight and/or young. Relax! Take a few minutes to sniff and swirl. Give the wine a chance to perform before you beat the hell out of it. Just sayin’...

Wine Adviser


Larry Olson said...

Some of my favorite wine experiences have been while sitting and sipping a wine over hours and watching the evolution of the wine. Why on Earth would people want to speed that up? It isn't always about the destination folks, it is about the journey.

If you're in that big of a hurry, grab a Mike's Hard Lemonade!

chambolle said...

I agree, but there is one 'hurry up' that makes good sense to me; namely, the old "copper penny in the glass" trick for wine that is obtrusively reduced.

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