The Aerator Shoot Out

The story: How do wine aerators hold up when compared to letting time do your aeration? Which ones work and how well do they work? The results really surprised us as well as a few unsuspecting participants in our research. We tested the devices in controlled tests as well as random tests. The random tests took place at restaurants and tasting rooms.

The players: Respirer, Soiree, Spinwine, Time, Versivino, and Vinturi.

The evaluation: All of the devices we tested retail from $40 on the high end to around $20 on the low end except for time – retail price for time we found to be a very elusive figure that varied depending on who you asked.  It was obviously apparent that the fact that these devices are a marketable and sought out products, the statement “Time is money” is proven undeniably as pure logic, the kind you can take to the bank.

aerator-shoot-outTwo of the units are hand held and three are attached to the bottle. This operational feature we found split the camps of preference in some cases, and some test subjects had no preference preferring to favor the unit they felt performed the task of aeration regardless of style.

Time we found not to be quite as popular in the beginning mostly because it seems no one really likes time, or should we say things that take time? We found that quite humorous because most folks complain when they don’t have enough time but usually complain too when they have too much time on their hands (I guess the trick is to keep it off your hands). But that’s a story for another time and we will get to it some other time.

In our controlled tests we would open a bottle of the test wine, pour out a glass and let the bottle breathe 1 ½ hours. When the wine had been breathing an hour and a half, we would open another bottle of the test wine and pour through the five wine aerators. Pamela and I would take turns pouring so we could keep the tests blind. We then took turns tasting the wine in all six glasses and would then evaluate our perceptions.

In our random tests we poured from different aerators at restaurants and tasting rooms having anyone who would participate; taste the wine non-aerated and then aerated to compare our controlled test results with public perception. I must say in restaurants whenever we were using the in-bottle devices we got more interest than with the hand-held units.

I included the websites for all units in the beginning of the story because I was amused with the variance by which the technical aspects of the devices were described by the manufacturers.

Soiree’s website had the most passionate and technical information. It was evident the concept was conceived as a mission and planned for success. Ease of use, cleaning and storing were great features.

Vinturi’s online literature focused on its ease of use and its reputation of being the veteran of the field and most trusted, most units sold etc, etc, etc. It also tied for most expensive.

Respirer describes their device as equal parts science and art and actually uses the phrase conveniently fits over a glass (yeah, as long as you hold the device over the glass as you pour through it). Amazingly, they should talk more about the design and performance and less about its beauty. Topping out the players in price this one has the material invested and workmanship to command top dollar.

Spinwine plays to the everyman wine enthusiast. Their website states whether it’s a 1972 Lafite Rothschild or your latest supermarket find this device makes all wines better. This I found this particularly interesting because while corresponding with Versivino they specifically stated they did not recommend their device to be used with vintage wines (funny, because this isn’t stated on their box or their website). Versivino talked mostly of the portioning aspect of their device and not so much it’s capability to open up the wine, which left me wondering why they did not make it portion a glass of wine instead of 100ml.  None of the devices will filter sediment.

The wines used in the control tests were young tight wines from Spain, Chile, Argentina, California and Washington. The vintage wines we choose were from Italy, Oregon and France. After just a few pours there were obvious frontrunners but we pride ourselves on our Mythbusters ethic so we just kept opening more wine. The conclusions are as follows.

The winners: The winner was Time; none of the devices could replicate the exact flavors of a wine that breathes naturally from the original bottle it was bottled in. That being said, how much is your time worth if a device costing $25 can make your wine taste a lot better in only seconds?

One has to individually make that assessment – how much is my time worth? We also found that two of the devices outperformed the others in our controlled tests and in our random tests.

One of the devices was a best bet because it worked best in almost every wine decanting situation. Soiree is your best bet.  Resperie will bombard your wine with aeration and on a huge tight young wine, it will actually aerate faster than Soiree.  There are times you might need this feature and if you can afford it and your time is worth $65 for and hour and a half, buy them both.

The Vinturi works almost as well.  Spinwine and Versivino we found to have minimal aeration performance in both the control tests and the random tests.

We learned a lot about people while doing this shootout and graciously want to thank anyone who participated.  Thanks for letting us keep you captive as we extrapolated your thoughts on wine and wine accessories. I promise the next post will not sound like an episode of Dragnet being narrated.

~Marc Hinton