Wine aerators are a dime a dozen and to be honest, most are probably purchased by people who don’t know a whole lot about wine and are convinced an aerator or decanter will magically transform their $8 bottle of 2010 Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon bottle into an $850 bottle of 2006 Château Lafite Rothschild 1st cru classé, Pauillac. (As I gasp for post-rant air…)
Rest assured, this will never happen. On top of that, not all wine will even benefit from aeration. I’ll get into that a little later. Right now what matters is this, the HOST Adjustable Wine Aerator.
I picked up this wine gadget up from Kenneth Wingard for $39. I chose this particular wine aerator because it claimed a unique feature. According to its claims, you can select the level of aeration by the hour. You can (theoretically) literally dial in how much aeration you’d like to accomplish in a matter of seconds instead of hours.
To understand how this could even be possible, it’s important to understand what wine aeration is, and why you might want to aerate your wine.
When you aerate wine, you are in theory doing two separate things; oxidizing the wine and encouraging evaporation. The following is an over-simplification that will annoy the hell out of my wine expert friends, which is half the reason I wrote it.
Oxidation happens when oxygen comes in contact with the tannins in wine and produces hydrogen peroxide which in turn mixes with the ethanol in the wine to create acetaldehyde. This makes wine taste flat or vinegary and can give it a brownish tinge. Think of it as rusting your wine.
Wine aerators agitate wine, increasing the surface area of the pour encouraging wine to oxygen contact. The same principle happens when you pour wine into a decanter and wait. This controlled oxidization can open up a wine that tastes boring and/or has a muted bouquet (aroma).
Evaporation, just like oxidation, seems like something you’d want to prevent from happening to your wine. In some cases, however, evaporation isn’t such a bad thing. Wine, especially wine made in America, can be higher in alcohol than it should be. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, table wine is any wine that has a percent alcohol between 7 and 14%. Wine between 14 and 24% alcohol is considered a dessert wine. Chances are, your bottle of American red wine is over 14% alcohol by volume. That’s really too bad.
So why evaporation? All that extra alcohol can cause a wine to taste “hot”. That’s no good. Once again, increasing the surface area of wine helps the ethanol evaporate and smooth out a wine.
You the old saying, “Look at the legs on that wine!”? Ever wonder what it meant? It might sound a little silly but there is reason for a wine’s “legs”. If you swirled water or grape juice in a glass, it would fall down the sides of the glass in a single sheet. However, when you add ethanol to the grape juice, i.e. turn it into wine, it creates these legs as the wine falls down the sides of the glass. That’s because ethanol evaporates faster than water. As the theory goes, the thinner and longer the legs, the higher alcohol the wine.
Now that we have all that behind us. Does the HOST Adjustable Wine Aerator (HOST) work? The short answer is “Yes”. But since you’re here, you’re going to get the long answer!
The HOST accepts wine poured through the top and funnels it through a bowl with tiny holes. From the tiny holes the wine is sent into a second bowl which then bubbles the wine as it is trapped between air and the final spout which empties (finally) into your glass.
It’s a three-stage process with a unique dial that will slow or speed up the operation by decreasing how much wine can go through. The higher the number selected, the slower the wine flows and the louder it gets as more air is forced into the wine.
It’s this adjustable flow speed that HOST says will allow you to set zero to six hours of aeration. Of course the “zero” level doesn’t make sense, I presume they mean 1 minute to 59 minutes.
HOST did the science behind this aeration dial, calculating the parts per million of oxygen being incorporated with the wine. And according to HOST, these adjustments can also be used to select the aeration per type of wine.
I wasn’t able to invest the time, or wine, in blind tasting the wine 14 times to see if it made a difference from the seven time periods (0-6) vs trying wine straight from the bottle over the full six hours of static aeration. But I can say that the higher the setting, the more aerated the wine tasted. This was consistent and I could taste the difference between the freshly opened bottle, the “1″ setting, “4″ setting and “6″ setting.
We can all agree that the HOST accomplishes the task of aerating the wine. That is something you can both see and hear as you’re pouring the wine through it. Whether a wine needs to be aerated is a whole other story. People tend to think if they have a wine, it would taste better if it was aerated. This simply isn’t true. Just like you can over-salt your food, you can over-aerate your wine. The only way to really know if you should or shouldn’t aerate is to taste the wine straight from the bottle and then taste the wine after aeration.
Interestingly enough, at my last wine party everyone preferred their wine after aeration. Perhaps this is because everyone here brought wine that needed aeration, this is not super likely. More likely is that my guests were simply victims of the power of purgation, the placebo affect or pure psychosomatics.
In the end I do believe everyone can benefit from having some sort of wine aerator. Whether it is a $10 1000ml Erlenmeyer flask, classic wine decanter, Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator or the HOST Adjustable Wine Aerator, you can certainly find a time that you have wine in need of a little aeration.
Would I recommend the HOST over a Vinturi? Yes. If not only because its adjustable aeration will serve the purpose of both the red and white wine Vinturi aerators, saving you $30. I have several decanters and aerators and the HOST is my favorite right now. The only complaint I have is that while it claims to filter out solids from wine, it doesn’t do a super job at this.
Of course, you could just let your wine sit open for a while or give it a shake in an Erlenmeyer flask. Rushing through a good bottle of wine should be a crime anyways.