How to Aerate Wine

Aerating Wine With the Ventorosso

Gadget Review: Ventorosso
Purchased at: Donated by Ventorosso Ventures who requested that we review the product.
Cost: $29.99 from Ventorosso.com

Introduction:
The folks at Ventorosso reached out to us in late 2014 to do a review of their wine aerator. Unfortunately, we used the same Cabernet Sauvignon that we had used for previous aeration tests. Why unfortunately? We used a really good Cab which in past tests, was big enough but also young enough to yield really good test results. It became our go to wine for testing. So what’s the problem? Well, aerators by design are supposed to soften tannins of younger, more aggressive wines and therein lies the problem. The one that we used in the past had aged so nicely, that it didn’t need aeration anymore, and in fact, was almost indistinguishable from an unaerated wine. That meant that we needed to redo the test with a younger wine with bigger tannins. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the holiday season came, then everyone in the house got a cold which seriously messes with your tested buds. Post Christmas, we had to deal with a number of issues from a fire and subsequent wind storm damage at our cabin and the test got pushed to the back burner (by the way, more on that in our next post, “Evolution of a Web Site”). So…to make a short story long, which apparently I’ve done, we owe the Ventorosso people a big apology for being 11 months late on a review that should have been redone in December or January. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

For those of you that need a reminder of what an aerator does, it softens the tannins of younger wines, effectively “maturing” them. I guess for those of you that already knew that, aerating does the same thing, but I’ve just managed to waste your time by reminding you of it. For those who are impatient like me, these devices promise virtually instant gratification.

Advertised Purpose:
Ventorosso is a company that has wine culture at heart. After studying the history, traditions and classic decanting methods used for hundreds of years, it’s clear to us that aeration is a vital step in drinking and appreciating wine.

Although tannins are a part of wine’s unique taste, unless aerated sufficiently, the bitterness can mask the intended flavors (tannins come from grape skins and seeds). The design of the Ventorosso sphere gently maximizes the wine’s exposure to air, improving the aromas and balancing the overall flavor of your wine.

Expectation/What it Means:
Well, I think I’ve pretty much beat that dead horse into the ground. The device is supposed to make young, tannic, aggressive wines, smoother and more balanced…enough said.

The Process and Measurements:
We administered a blind taste test to 4 red wine enthusiasts to see if they preferred the wine served with the Ventorosso as opposed to pouring it directly into a glass from the newly uncorked bottle. The glasses then sat for roughly 5 minutes with a friend who we can trust to administer the test because sadly, he doesn’t even like wine. He then labeled the glasses and recorded the labels to insure that each person had one “Ventorosso’ed” and one “control” glass. Each glass had a unique label (“A” though “H”) to insure that no one could pick up on comments made by some one else about a glass with the same label. However, the tasters were free to discuss what they thought while tasting because no one knew which glass was which.

Theoretically, the measurement process was simple. Did the testers prefer the Ventorosso glass or the control glass. I say theoretically because we realized that expectations about wine aeration creep into the test but more on that later.

The Results:
The Ventorosso presented us a with a conundrum. All four testers could definitively tell the difference between the Ventorosso’ed glass vs. the control glass. I could tell from the aroma from the first sniff and the taste only reinforced my opinion that the aerated wine was considerably better. All three other testers also remarked on a significant difference in smell and taste. The conundrum was that two of the testers actually preferred the unaerated wine. Hmm…so how do you rate a device with two different sets of results, depending upon what the testing criteria actually was? Ultimately, the Ventorosso did exactly what was promised. It very effectively aerated the wine. The fact that two tasters actually preferred the unearated wine doesn’t diminish how well it worked. That just reflected more on their tastes in wine that particular evening.

Surprises:
Well, several things actually took us by surprise.
1) Hands down everyone commented that the Ventorosso changed the aroma and flavor profile of the wine. This was extremely effective at aerating a wine.
2) Huge surprise here – two out of the four of us actually preferred the unaerated wine. No one expected that.
3) If you want a conversation piece when you are pouring wine, this is the one. The effect is quite cool as the wine cascades over the clear glass ball. It looks like one of the art deco, stone, ball fountains.

Would Winery-Sage.com Recommend This Product?
Definitively. The device was one of the two best tools for quickly aerating wine that we’ve tested. As we learned however, just be sure that an aerated wine is what you want.

Qualifiers:
1) A 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Burrell School Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains was used. While it is a well balanced wine, just after opening it has some pretty aggressive tannins and benefits from 30 minutes or so of glass breathing prior to enjoying it. The test was administered with a single bottle to avoid any bottle variation.

2) The temperature of the wine was roughly 61 degrees F when poured and warmed to about 64 degrees when the experiment took place which places it firmly in our recommended temperature range for Cabernet Sauvignon. If you have questions about why a room temperature wine wasn’t used, we suggest that you read our serving temperature page on the main Winery-Sage.com site.

3) The ambient temperature was warm, 81 degrees F inside the house.

4) When we evaluate a piece of wine equipment, we usually try and design a test that produces measurable results. In this case, tasting a wine to see how it has changed is very subjective so we decided to tabulate results using four different tasters to give us more than one opinion.

5) Identical glasses were used for all tastes to eliminate variability.

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