Why is wine aeration important?

What is the importance of aerating wines & what does it really mean?

Aerating wine (an often overlooked, but crucial process), holds a significant role in enhancing the overall sensory experience and unlocking the full potential of a bottle's flavours and aromas. Some people don’t even realise that there are benefits in aerating a bottle of white wine…


Here's why it's so important:

Unveiling Aromas;

Aerating wine allows it to breathe, enabling volatile compounds to evaporate and the wine to open up. This process liberates intricate aromas trapped within, releasing scents of fruits, spices, florals, and other nuanced elements that contribute to the wine's bouquet.


Softening Harsh Tannins;

Particularly in young red wines, aeration helps in softening tannins – The compounds responsible for that dry, puckering sensation in your mouth. Exposure to air allows these tannins to mellow, resulting in a smoother, more pleasant tasting experience.


Enhancing Flavour Complexity;

Oxygenation triggers chemical reactions within the wine, aiding in the integration of flavours and allowing different elements to harmonize. This process enhances the complexity of the wine, revealing layers of taste that might otherwise remain subdued.


Immediate Enjoyment;

While some wines benefit from decanting or aerating for an extended period, even a brief exposure to air by swirling the wine in the glass can significantly improve its taste, making it more enjoyable from the very first sip.


In essence, aerating wine isn't just about aeration devices or decanters; It's about allowing the wine to 'breathe,' enabling it to express itself fully and allowing wine enthusiasts to relish the rich tapestry of flavors and aromas that each bottle holds. Whether decanting, swirling in the glass, or using aerating gadgets, the process of aeration enhances the pleasure derived from every sip, transforming a simple act of drinking into an enriching and memorable experience.



Tips from Sommy Tommy 

Ideal candidates for Wine Aeration;

1.  Sparkling Wines:
    • Decanting can enhance the roundness and expressiveness of certain sparkling wines, like aged Champagnes. However, it's important to note that this comes at the cost of reducing the wine's effervescence.


    2.  White Wines:
      • High Acidity Whites: Varieties such as Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Furmint may benefit from decanting. This process can help these wines become more expressive, particularly if they contain 'wine diamonds' or crystallized tartaric acid, a natural byproduct in wines that have not been cold stabilized.
      • Reductive Whites: These wines are made in environments with minimal oxygen, enhancing freshness but sometimes resulting in reductive notes like rubber or smoke. Decanting can help these aromas dissipate, revealing the wine's true floral and fruit characteristics.
      • Rich Whites: Styles like Chardonnay, White Rioja, White Bordeaux, Trebbiano, and White Châteauneuf-du-Pape, often aged in oak barrels, may require decanting. The oak aging imparts flavors such as vanilla and grilled nuts and adds tannins, which can make the wine seem 'closed.' Decanting helps integrate these elements and warm the wine to a temperature that better showcases its fruit qualities.


      3.  Red Wines:

        • Medium to Full-Bodied Reds: Particularly those from cooler vintages, benefit from decanting due to their higher tannin content.
        • High Tannin Wines: The process of aeration softens tannins, making them less aggressive. This occurs through polymerization, where oxygen binds to tannin molecules, encouraging them to clump together and eventually form sediment. Decanting these wines helps to remove this sediment, ensuring a smoother tasting experience.


        Additional Tips:
        • Decanting Time: The ideal decanting time varies; it's typically shorter for delicate or older wines and longer for robust reds.
        • Temperature Adjustment: Decanting assists in bringing wines to their optimal serving temperature, whether cooling down a wine that's too warm or gently warming up a chilled white.
        • Sensory Enhancement: Beyond structural changes, decanting enhances a wines aromas and flavors, making it more enjoyable and complex to the senses.