News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 9, 2012

GRAPE SENSE: Consider buying an aerator for the wine enthusiast on your list

Howard Hewitt
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Buying wine for the wine lover on your Christmas shopping list is fraught with peril. Do you know their tastes? Do you know their favorite varietals? Can you afford their favorites?

A gift certificates for a nearby wine shop is a nice gift. But unless you are certain of the person’s wine tastes, stick with wine accessories. Glassware makes an outstanding gift. For wine drinkers, you can never have enough wine glasses or a good decanter.

There are lots of gizmos on the wine market. You can buy all sorts of devices to remove the cork, to chill wine and more. There is one gadget though which can be a nice addition to any vino lover’s wine accessories.

Consider buying an aerator. While the gadget isn’t new to the wine world, it hasn’t been around all that long. And now there are several types, models and price points. Aerators can be found at better wine and liquor stores and some household stores that carry wine glasses and decanters.

For years wine drinkers would pour their wines into a decanter to soften the bite of the tannins on the finish of the wine. But in our “no patience, no time, and can’t wait” society sometimes that’s not good enough.

Enter Vinturi the manufacturer of the original wine aerator. Essentially, you pour wine through an aerator and oxygen is infused into the wine as it enters the glass and softens the taste.

Vinturi offers a base model and a Vinturi Tower model (which holds the aerator), a white wine aerator and a travel model. The base aerator is usually priced around $35-$40. The aerator with the tower holder will cost from $50-$60.

The success of aerators has resulted in more entries into the market.

The newer in-bottle aerators have the advantage that it’s less messy. Both of the samples I tried have rubber-sealed necks which go right into the wine bottle.

Soiree has a number of party and wine home supply gadgets. The Soiree is a bubble with a spout. When you turn a wine bottle completely upside down the wine swirls over the bubble and into your glass. The Soiree offers a less expensive alternative at $20-$25.

The third aerator was an in-bottle type with a sleek spout for pouring. VinOair from CorkPops would be great for travel or taking to a party. The VinOair is the least expensive of the three at $16.

But do these things really work? Ask any regular wine drinker with aerator experience, and the answer may vary.

For me, they do a nice job of making a big red wine ready to drink. And I’ve been surprised an aerator  actually helps on some white wines that have a real acidic finish.

I received samples of all three aerators and tested them with wine-drinking friends. All three worked just fine and definitely softened the wine. The Vinturi is elegant; the VinOair is the most convenient, while the Soiree was the pick of my wine buddies on taste.

An aerator is a gift wine friends might not have in their collections yet. All three companies have good websites where you can find local retailers.

More gifts: Check Howard’s blog (www.redforme.blogspot.com) for a video with more wine gift-giving ideas.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes about value wine every other week for 21 Midwestern newspapers. Reach him at: hewitthoward@gmail.com.