THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Let that wine breathe

THE FOUNTAINS OF AGING  photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

THE FOUNTAINS OF AGING photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

So you finally received that new shipment of Cabernet Sauvignon from your favorite winery (2010). You’ve been waiting six months for the shipment to arrive, and now that it’s in your hands, you want to sample it, although you should put it in the cellar to let it age. But since we can never tell what the future holds, instant gratification triumphs. Since it’s a very young wine, however, you need to decant it, pour it into a carafe and let it breathe over several hours, right? Hmm, several hours isn’t really instant gratification. You could sample it right from the bottle, but it may be a little “closed,” in which case that $50 price tag seems like a waste.

But you don’t want to wait several hours. What do you do?

What about accelerated aeration? A device quickly aerates the wine, thus opening up flavors that would have remained hidden or at least muted if the wine was sampled straight from the bottle. There are quite a few of these on the market, and all claim that they make your glass of wine taste better by speeding up the oxygenation process. And they’ll only set you back about the cost of a nice bottle of Cabernet.

The Players
In lieu of having you spend your hard earned dollars sampling these devices, the Gochiso Gourmet will give you an objective review of some of these devices. Basically, all of these devices aerate your wine to about the same degree as decanting the wine and letting it sit over the course of an evening, but it’s done immediately without waiting. Why aerate at all? Oxygenating a young wine helps expose underlying flavor components that either are hidden or masked by a dominant component, like fruit, especially in a young California Cabernet. When the wine is aerated, secondary aromas start to appear, like herbal components or secondary fruit flavors, and the increased oxygenation can also soften some of the hard tannins in young red wines, improving the balance and mouth feel of the wine.

So I assembled a group of wine “toys” that I have in my collection. To be as objective as possible, I used the same shaped wine glass, Riedel Zinfandel, since only about two ounces were poured, and poured the same amount of wine with each device. I swirled the wine three times before sniffing and sipping and compared it to the same wine poured straight from the bottle without the benefit of any aeration device. The wine in question was the recent release of 2010 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon ($58) — as young as any Cabernet on the market right now. True objectivity would have necessitated a blind tasting, but that would have required a second person … and the Mrs. was busy in the kitchen. True professionalism also would have dictated that I spit the wine between samples so as not to have the alcohol cloud my evaluation. But I’m not really a professional and I definitely don’t spit $58 wine.

Vinturi $39.95
This is probably the most recognized name of all the wine aeration products on the market today. It’s basically a small acrylic cup that directly drains through a narrow tube. Opposing perpendicular openings connected to the drain tube suck air into the drain tube, creating an exiting vortex of wine that’s now fully aerated as it drops into your glass. They also make a travel version of the Vinturi, complete with a nifty travel case, but the cup opening is just a little wider than the bottle opening, so I’d advise maroon colored shirts and dark pants when attempting to use the travel version!

Host Tilt Variable Aerator $25
This acrylic pourer aerates wine to varying degrees, depending on the angle of the bottle. This aerator is placed into the uncorked bottle and aerates the wine as it’s poured, via a single opening that draws air into the stream of wine. A 30-degree bottle angle mildly aerates the wine, up to 60 degrees moderately aerates the wine and past 60 degrees fully aerates the wine.

Soiree $24.99
This is the simplest design, as it’s just a glass ball that is inserted into the opened wine bottle. Three conical protrusions in the ball agitate, thus aerate, the wine that enters the ball.

Trudeau $24.99
This is another acrylic pourer that is inserted into the uncorked wine bottle, but it has two aerating openings and an angled pouring neck so that only a 15-degree angle is needed to aerate the wine.

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

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