Glass of Red Wine(79662)Credit: WikimediaBefore you ask yourself what is a wine aerator, realize that wine is a hobby that can quickly add up a large tab.  Between the wine itself, the glassware, and the hardware it can be overwhelming.  If you are trying to enjoy wine on a budget, than it makes sense to only buy the tools that will truly give you a return on your investment.  Wine is obviously the first on the list of necessities.  No matter what tools you buy to attempt to enhance your wine there is nothing that will make a cheap wine taste like an expensive, aged vintage.  If you want a higher quality wine than your money is better spent buying that better quality wine.  However, if there are small improvements that can be made to a bottle of wine through handling and technique than perhaps those tools are worth the price. 

What is Aeration?

Aeration is the act of introducing wine to air.  As you know, wine is stored in bottles to let the flavors age and gain complexity.  A bottle of wine will go for years without so much as breath of new air.  By letting air mingle with the wine again it can help the flavors mellow out a bit so they aren't so strong on the tongue.  While wine tasting is a matter of preference it is recommended that a bottle of wine should sit for fifteen minutes before being served.

How does a wine aerator work?

What Is A Wine Aerator?Credit: Amazon.comAn aerator is a method of speeding up the aeration process.  The key factor is the surface area of the wine.  If you were to just open a bottle of wine and let it sit than there is a minimal amount of surface area that is exposed to air.  I'm certain you have seen someone, either in person or on television, take their glass and swirl it to see the wine run up the sides of the glass.   These people are not just being pretentious.  This is a common method of aerating wine one glass at a time.  By swirling it they make thin layers of wine along the surface of the glass which can then come in direct contact with air.  This is the same method that an aerator uses.

A wine aerator is similar in use to a funnel.  You place the aerator above the glass and pour the wine through at a controlled rate.  The aerator is designed to have the wine run down the sides of the aerator so that is can take in the correct amount of air.  The glass is then ready to drink immediately after pour.

What Are Some Situations That Work Best With Aeration?

As a general rule of thumb red wines benefit from an aerator much more than white wines.  This has to do with the level of tannin.  The age of the wines also plays a large part in the effectiveness of an aerator.  Young wines benefit the most since their flavors have yet to fully mature and can be too strong for some palates.  By letting the wine breathe first you can noticeably increase the quality of your bottle.

So is an aerator worth your investment?  A quality wine aerator runs in the range of $40 and since it has no moving parts can last an extremely long time.  No one knows your drinking habits better than yourself so use this information as you would.  If you find yourself drinking red wines from the lower price range, than aerator certainly seems like it may add to the flavor profiles of your wine of choice.  However, taste is a very subjective topic.  So what is a wine aerator worth to you?  That's up to you and your taste buds.