The best ways to clean a wine aerator are the easiest ones as well, but there are still some things to consider if you want to learn how to clean your wine aerator.
Here’s all you need to know about these fantastic wine gadgets that make wine smell and taste more intense in seconds — from how to use them to how to clean them.
The Importance of Letting Wine Breathe
Wine is a complex beverage. Most of it is water and alcohol, but a tiny amount is made of tannins, pigments, acids, sugars and aromatic compounds. All these molecules react to oxygen — tannins mellow and aromatic particles become volatile.
Since smelling wine is part of the wine tasting experience, you want those aromatic compounds volatile enough to be picked by your nose. That’s where aerators come in. These gadgets agitate the wine and expose it to air, making it more aromatic.
Of course, aeration will never make a lousy wine taste and smell good, but it can make you perceive wine better for what it is — good or bad. Aeration is a tool and an optional technique to make the most out of your bottle of wine.
Do All Wines Benefit from Aeration?
Not all wines benefit from aeration. For starters, most wines only need you to swirl the glass between sips to release their aromatic molecules. Of course, some wines are too stubborn or “closed.” These can benefit from a bit of oxygenation from an aerator.
White, red and rosé wines can benefit from aeration; if young, even better. Well-aged wine develops delicate aromas that the somewhat violent aeration process can destroy.
No wine needs aeration, but that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from the technique. Besides, using an aerator is fun, and it adds to the drinking experience. Opening wine bottles and pouring them into fancy crystal glasses through an aerator is part of the experience.
The Difference Between a Decanter and an Aerator
Before learning how to clean a wine aerator, and the best ways to clean an aerator, let’s talk about the differences between these pieces and decanters.
Decanters are used to separate the wine’s solids from the liquid; that if the bottle has accumulated sediments. The process also oxygenates the wine. Aerators also infuse the wine with oxygen, waking up the aromatic molecules in the liquid.
And although some aerators are fitted with a filter to remove sediments, most of them don’t. An aerator “wakes up” the wine with a swirling motion. Decanters simply offer a wider surface for the wine to be in contact with air. These are not interchangeable wine tools, and you might want to have both in hand.
Types of Wine Aerators
There are several types of aerators, and the style determines how to clean each wine aerator. The best ways to clean wine aerators are often the same, but you might want to see if they work for your particular model.
Handheld. Handheld aerators require you to use both hands to pour. These are often sophisticated pieces, and they can be small or bulky. Handheld aerators are some of the most effective and versatile.
In-bottle stopper. These aerators are attached to the bottle’s mouth, and they oxygenate the wine as you pour. These are versatile aerators, although they’re often small and hard to clean.
Haley's 5-in-1 multi-purpose wine stopper is often referred to as the 'Swiss Army Knife of wine tools'. Its leak-proof design keeps your wine fresh longer. Functions include aerating, pouring, filtering and resealing.
In glass/decanter. Some aerators sit over a decanter or wine glass, allowing you to pour the wine with one hand. These are not the most versatile aerators, as they might not fill all wine glasses and decanters.
Why You Should Clean Your Wine Aerator
- Aerators are in contact with your wine as it passes through them, whether you have a very simple model or a sophisticated aeration system. Wine, though, is a hot spot for bacteria and other microorganisms. A dirty aerator can ruin not one but several bottles of wine before you even realise where the problem is.
- Cleaning an aerator is a good practice. After all, your wine glasses, decanters and other wine tools should always be presentable, if not for you, for your guests.
- A clean aerator is a tool, a dirty one, a liability. Aerators are supposed to enhance your wine tasting experience, not ruin it. Keep your devices clean and worry about entertaining your drinking buddies.
Best Ways To Clean a Wine Aerator: Do’s and Don’ts
Clean your aerator after every use. The sooner, the better. You don’t want the wine to dry out, staining the aerator’s interior. Ensure you rinse your aerator immediately after using it, and you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the night.
Clean aerators with a steady stream of warm water. Ensure the water is not too hot, or it might damage some aerators, particularly those made with crystal.
Use a small brush if available. Although not always needed, a small brush or pipe cleaner can help you remove the last wine residue from your aerator.
Don’t use soap. Never use soap or chemicals to clean decanters or aerators, as their scent is hard to eliminate. Odourless glassware soap exists, but it’s not always available or needed, for that matter.
Should You Buy a Wine Aerator?
When the wine bug bites you, you want to taste wine often and perhaps build a small collection. You also want to own every wine gadget on the market, and although investing in what you love is fun, you don’t need all those tools.
However, aerators can be pretty handy, especially if you don’t like to wait for your wine to open in the wine glass. Aerators can offer fruit-forward and expressive wine in seconds, and that’s nice.
You don’t need an aerator, but you’ll be happy to buy one. You might not use it every day, but the more tools you have on your belt, the better prepared you’ll be when having guests over for a glass of wine.
Wine aerators are essential tools for wine lovers, enthusiasts and professionals. Yes, you can live without one, but you’re potentially missing out on your wine’s more subtle flavours and aromas.
Having an aerator around and owning nice wine glasses and decanters comes with a responsibility, as one must ensure they’re clean and in shape. Of course, guaranteeing they’re ready for your next drinking session.
Aerators can be tricky to clean, but as long as you take care of them as soon as you’re done using them, you won’t struggle with stubborn stains.
If you don’t own an aerator, get one. These aren’t expensive tools, and although you probably won’t be using them for every bottle of wine you open, at least you’ll be ready for when you find yourself against a closed, inexpressive wine.
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