Thursday, July 21, 2011

Aerating away

I recently posted about the genius invention that is the Riedel wine glass… I think I also might have mentioned that it was my one-day-dream to own one (or two?). Luckily for me, my entire family not only reads my wine blog but also observes my birthday. And so, broke and 22, I now own two Vinum Extreme Cabernet glasses. I’m pretty sure that this is the perfect example of when taste outstrips means. Regardless, Riedel’s Vinum Extreme line was designed specifically for New World wines. I chose this particular set because I am a big drinker of West Coast reds, primarily Cabernet and Merlot. Because I’m in Denver right now and suitcase is not the best storage facility for leaded crystal, the wine glasses are waiting for me back in Eugene, yet to be tried. I am counting down the days until I get back.

Along with my future Riedels, I got another wine accessory I’ve been dying to own: the Vinturi red wine aerator. Pouring your wine through an aerator fills it with air (evidenced by the tiny bubbles that cover the surface of your wine post-pour) and, as a result, it tastes fuller and smoother. Infatuated by my new, gorgeous aerator, I decided to open a bottle of wine and revel in the wine-y goodness of my birthday. The bottle I opened was a 2007 La Yunta Tinto blend from Mendoza, Argentina. Composed of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Malbec and 16% Bonarda, this wine was $9.99 and came with a “great Argentina blend” recommendation. I didn’t quite agree with the “great” part of the recommendation, but the wine was passable. Pre-Vinturi-pour it smelled and tasted rather bland, but post-aeration (and you can tell the aerator is working as it gurgles happily), the smells and tastes of this blend opened up. I could taste cherry notes most strongly, but the wine had a lackluster finish. There was no aha! I love this wine moment. And my tastebuds were left wanting more of the smooth Cabernet finish and Malbec spiciness.

Though the La Yunta was somewhat disappointing, I completely recommend the Vinturi, or any other aerator you can find. In Making Sense of Wine, Matt Kramer explains that “the conventional wisdom about wines needing to breathe involved younger red wines of an earlier era. The fact is that many red wines made before, say, the 1960s, or even later, were crudely produced. They often offered off aromas deriving from old barrels or casks, or badly kept barrels or casks…sometimes they will ‘blow off’ when the wine is left exposed to oxygen for a period of time” (182). This "blowing off" was achieved by decanting wines, allowing them to sit out for a few hours for oxygenation. However, Kramer suggests that “the real oxygenation of the wine occurred in the process of pouring the wine from the bottle to the decanter” (183) – hence the modern aerators. For a range of aerators: Vinturi ($40), The Rabbit ($30), Wine Enthusiast Aerating Funnel Screen ($30), Glass Wine Flavor Enhancer ($20).

Stay tuned for more wine-snobbery as I hunt for a fuller, more pleasing wine!


  1. never allow me to get close to your new wine glasses..........had a set of Riedel's........HAD a set! Seem unable to provide the gentle touch they require. Now buy my stemware from Macy's............enjoy your new stemware!

  2. Time is of the Essence Have you ever been out for a special evening and were on a tight schedule to make an event? I had the experience of sharing a special evening with someone and had thought we had plenty of time to make the ballet after dinner. Being the collector that I am, I brought my perfectly aged Pinot Noir from home and handed it to the sommelier.

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