Understanding Wine Aeration: Do you Aerate White Wine?

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Wines need to breathe regardless of the color. This is done to let air enter the bottle through an airing chamber to enhance the flavor of the wine. After a wine bottle is stored for years, the some of the chemical composites of the wine should be let out without releasing the good ones. Simply opening the bottle will not be enough to aerate the wine since the opening is too small to let the air in.

Aerating is then done through a decanter or through a wine aerator, which is proven to be as effective as decanting wine. The use of an aerator adds air to the wine in a chamber and the wine then passes out through a spout; an aerator infuses the wine with oxygen to make it more flavorful. In effect, the toxins are released but the good flavors are kept in. The process of decanting is simpler, but the processing time is shorter with an aerator.

A lot of wine drinkers are confused by the type of wine that will benefit from aeration. Many think that all types of red or white wine should be aerated, and when the wine tastes the same, they think that the aerator is defective, when, in fact, the wine didn’t need aerating in the first place. Before pouring the wine into an aerator, you should know what types of wines will benefit from the process.

What types of wine need a wine aerator?

Although most wine pourers and aerators can accommodate any type of wine, the quality of taste will differ according to the type being used.

There are wines that have a high tannic content such as Sauvignon, Barbera, Bordeaux, and Montepulciano. These are wines that taste extra bitter when not aerated and other flavors of the wine are overpowered. These are wines which should have a fruity, a little of wood, and should have a bold punch when it reaches the palate.

Young wines have more tannins because they are bottled sooner. The aging process and the aeration process are shorter after these wines are bottled. Aerating them would help in completing the process of fermentation and letting the unwanted chemicals to evaporate, which was not completely done during aging. Young wines, if put in a decanter, should take an hour or two to breathe. Using a wine aerator will make this possible as soon as the bottle is opened and poured.

Older wines with sediment should also be aerated because old wines have sediment that has formed over time. The sediment is a product of bound tannins and other chemicals and has accumulated at the bottom of the wine bottle. The taste is more bitter because the tannins have increased significantly over the years and the wine should be aerated as much as possible. However, old wines are sensitive, so aerators can destroy the flavors of the wine.

Does white wine need aeration?

There are only select types of white wines that can be aerated; not all types should be aerated. White wines, like red wine, should have a bold, dry, and full taste. Types of white wine that need benefit from a wine aerator are Bordeaux, Corton-Charlemagne, and Alsace. These types also have tannins that need to be set out and should evaporate.

The downside of letting white wine aerate is that it loses its chill; using a decanter will take the coldness out of the wine. This is why an aerator is better for wines like these so that the wine can be aerated while it is still chilled. The bottle can be put back in the refrigerator as soon as the wine is poured into a glass.


Knowing what type of wine to aerate is the first step before the wine is poured into the aerator. Young red wines and some white wines will benefit the most from aeration. However, there are wines that do not need to breathe at all such as Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais, and Cotes du Rhone, lighter Zinfandels, and light Chiantis, and Dolcettos. Cheap wines, which are ready to consume, do not need aeration. Knowing the right type of wine to aerate will remove unwanted expectations from the aerator.

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