The Process of Aerating Wine Aeration is a process by which air is circulated through, mixed with or dissolved in a liquid, like wine, and when this process is introduced into wines, the volatile undesirable components in the wine will evaporate faster than the desirable, aromatic flavorful ones. When wine is aerated, two chemical reactions take place, which are the oxidation process, which takes place when something is exposed to oxygen, and evaporation process, which is a process of a liquid turning into a vapor and escaping into the air. Wine is aerated using a decanter, which is known to be the oldest and most frequently used aerators, made from glass and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes; the process takes place by just leaving the wine in the decanter for 15-20 minutes, although the time it takes will depend on the type of wine. Aeration can also be done by just opening a bottle of wine, although it takes a lot longer for the process to take place due to the narrow head of the bottle, thereby, restricting the wines access to oxygen. Aerating wine can also be done through aerator gadgets, which have patented designs, but the principle method is similar, which is forcing the wine through a funnel that enables a pressurized force of oxygen to interact with it; the result is instant aeration.
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Young red wines with a heavy tannin base or red wines with complex and bold structure or old aged wines are perfect for decanting, although not all wines need to be aerated, since the process can actually ruin the complexity of some wines and destroy their flavor profile.
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Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Bordeaux, Montepulciano, etc, are examples of young red wines, which are known for their high tannic profiles, and they are slightly aerated to allow the tannins to mellow a bit, softening the wine’s harsh edges and making it a more pleasant drinking experience that isn’t overpowered by a tannic punch. Red wine aging, which occurs between eight and ten years, allows for the various elements in the wine, such as tannins and other components, to bind together, solidify, and sit as sediments on the wine bottle, but the sediments taste bitter; that’s why in decanting, pour the wine slowly so as not to agitate the sediments on the bottom of the wine bottle. Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Corton-Charlemagne, Alsace are examples of some white wines that can also benefit from aeration to achieve that dry, full-bodied taste. Some red wines, called vintage port wines, has been aged for around twenty and above years, and because the duration of aging time has built up sediments in the bottles, by putting these wines through the decantation process will help expose its flavorful taste.