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Why Should You Aerate Red & White Wine? Facts & Tips

You’ve likely heard that wine aeration – introducing air into it – but should you also aerate white wine?

While it’s unnecessary to let all white wines “breathe,” in some cases, aeration can be beneficial. Multiple methods are available for aeration, from decanting to simply swirling the wine in your glass.

Continue reading to learn which wines should be aerated, how to use an aerator, and proper storage for wine bottles.

Wine Aeration: Is It Necessary To Aerate Wine?

Ultimately, aerating wine benefits red (and some white wines). Allowing oxygen to mingle with wine can help sulfites and ethanols evaporate more quickly. This evaporation helps the wine from your local wine shop (or online) taste fresher, even though it’s been sitting on a shelf.

Additionally, when you aerate white wines (or red), it helps boost the taste of flavor and aroma notes that you might not otherwise taste.

Do You Aerate White Wine?

Simply put, only some white wines benefit from aeration. The white wines that do best with aeration share qualities with red wines. Generally, full-bodied whites, which are heavier, are best for aerating. Some examples of these wines are Alsace wines, white Bordeaux wines, and burgundy wines.

Which Red Wines Should Be Aerated?

It’s worth noting that most red wines benefit from aeration, though not all varieties need it. Usually, full-bodied, aged red wines which have high tannins are best when aerated.

A few examples of aged wine that you should aerate include cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and Bordeaux.

Young red wines are best when aerated because they have high tannins that have not had time to break down in the wine, meaning some young wines can have an overpowering astringent flavor. By aerating these wines, you can help release some unfavorable flavor notes.

As a note, cheap wine does not typically need aeration. Generally, a lower-cost red wine typically features a light body, so it will not taste better after aeration. Even higher-priced light-bodied reds do not require aeration. However, some wine drinkers believe you should aerate red wine regardless of the price or type, claiming it makes the wine taste better.

Does Aerating Wine Make A Difference?

Yes and no. It will only make a difference on full-bodied wines with high tannins. It will not affect certain white and cheaper/lower tannin red wines. By aerating the correct types of wine, you’re allowing the oxidation process to occur. Many times, this helps smooth out the flavor of the wine. It also releases the aroma of the wine you’re about to drink.

What Is A Wine Aerator, And What Does It Do?

Instead of letting the wine sit in a decanter to aerate, you can use an aerator. These tools can be used on white and red wines. An aerator allows a wine to come in contact with more oxygen than simply uncorking a bottle. Typically, a wine aerator is used before pouring wine into a glass to help accentuate the wine’s flavors and aromas.

Many aerators are available, from versions that go right into a bottle’s spout to options you pour wine into before serving. The primary goal of using an aerator for wine is to accelerate oxygenation by exposing the wine to as much air as possible.

Process And Benefits Of Aerating Wine

The process of using a wine aerator depends on the type selected. For example, if you’re using an option that attaches to the mouth of the bottle, you can simply insert it. Then, you’ll want to lean the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Ensure you can hear the air flowing into the bottle before pouring.

If you’d prefer an easy method that doesn’t cost extra money, you can pour yourself a glass and swirl the wine around. You expose the wine to the air before drinking it by swirling it.

By aerating wine, you’re allowing it to reach its full flavor potential before you drink it. When wine is kept in a bottle, unfavorable flavors and aromas are trapped with favorable ones. Once the air comes in contact with the wine, the unfavorable compounds can escape leaving behind a more pleasant-tasting wine.

How To Clean Wine Aerator?

The process for cleaning a wine aerator depends on which aerator you select. If using an in-bottle stopper, rinse it with warm water for about 30 seconds. Ensure you allow the water to run through the aerator holes until it runs clear. Do this between uses to keep the aerator clean.

The cleaning process is different if you’re using an O2 aerator instead, which contains a decanter-like glass and an aerating top that attaches. Once you have poured all the wine, wash the glass with soapy water. Pour a few oz of water into the holder for the aerator and allow it to run through for about 20-30 seconds. Wipe the glass and top it down thoroughly with a damp microfiber cloth before allowing all parts to air dry.

As a note, bacteria can still build up even when you regularly clean your aerator. So, it’s best to do a deeper clean once every 30 uses. You can clean an aerator more deeply by mixing a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water (3 oz total) and running it through your tool. You can soak in-bottle stoppers in a vinegar and water solution for about 20 seconds to deep clean them.

Do You Put Red Or White Wines In The Fridge After Opening it?

Red and white benefit from storage in the fridge once they’re open. While oxidation is important, it’s necessary to prevent wine from being overly exposed to air, as it can cause spoilage. Storing a bottle of red wine in the fridge after opening helps slow the oxidation of the wine. Oxidated red wine can turn a brownish color and lose its complex flavor notes, leaving behind a liquid that tastes more similar to grape juice than wine.

How Long Will An Open Bottle Of Wine Keep?

Most bottles of wine will be good to drink for about 3-5 days if properly stored. They must be closed with a cork or wine stopper to keep oxygen from entering. Additionally, open wine bottles must be kept in a cool spot (preferably in the fridge).

Red wine kept in a fridge can usually keep for about 3-5 days. The more tannins a red wine has, the longer it can last once it’s open. White wine (and rose) lasts a bit longer in the fridge than red wine, with some varieties able to be consumed for up to seven days. Usually, white wines are good for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Final Notes On Aerating Wine Bottle

Aerating full-bodied red and white wines is an excellent way to freshen the wine. By aerating these wines, you’re allowing the full flavor and aroma in the wine. If you do not aerate wine, you may not be able to enjoy it as it was intended.

Remember only to aerate heavier wines. Otherwise, aeration won’t enhance or change the flavor.

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