Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Super Tasting Tool

As a man of a certain age, I can remember rushing home from school every day to watch Superman on TV.  Without fail, every time the mild mannered Clark Kent stepped into that phone booth he was transformed into the bold Man of Steel.
I’d like to offer you a simple and relatively inexpensive tasting tool that can transform even the most modest wine into one bold enough even for Superman:  the wine aerator.
We are all aware of the concept of letting a wine breathe – exposing it to air to soften and open it up.  However, simply pulling the cork and letting the bottle sit opened for a few minutes just doesn’t work.  The tiny area of wine exposed to air in the thin bottle neck is too small relative to the total volume of the bottle to have any effect.
The simple and effective way to thoroughly aerate wine in seconds is to use a wine aerator.  These aerators are designed to mix just the right amount of air with the wine to allow it to breathe instantly. The result for both reds and whites is better bouquet, enhanced flavor, and a smoother finish.  Aerators have an especially dramatic effect on young, tannic reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, where they can add the equivalent of a year of tannin-softening oak in a few seconds.
Wine aerators come in several basic styles: some, such as the Soiree, fit into the neck of the bottle much like a pour spout; others, like the Vinturi, are held while wine is poured into the top and empties from the bottom into a glass; and, yet another, the WineWeaver, sits directly on top of the glass.  Whichever style you choose, I guarantee it will be much easier to use than the old alternative of splashing an entire bottle of wine into a decanter or carafe.  Further, you can aerate individual glasses as you drink them and preserve the rest of the bottle for later.
As a general skeptic of the many snobby or anachronistic practices surrounding wine, I was skeptical of these aerators at first.  However, while visiting a tasting room in the Texas Hill Country, the pourista served me the same wine in two identical glasses, one poured through an aerator and one not.  The difference was startling, and I bought my aerator on the spot.  Try this test for yourself, and you’ll be a believer.

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