To Aerate A Bottle of Wine? That is the Question
Some say aerating a bottle of wine is to simply uncork a bottle and let it breathe for 10 minutes. Some prefer to decant their bottle into a crystal carafe for aerating. This last week we observed a picture of a sommelier using a suction tube decanting a 4 liter bottle of wine into a carafe to aerate the wine (and avoid dispensing sediment.) We’ve even heard one wild story about a major winemaker pouring his wines into a blender and aerating several bottles at once.
So the question is, what is the best method of aerating your bottle of wine?
On our trips through California wine countries we notice many wineries using Haley’s Corker to pour wine. So we picked up a pair for testing. When you see so many wineries using one particular pouring device, you assume there is a reason.
Haley’s touts their product as an aerator, pourer, filter, re-corker and stopper – five products in one. They also suggest their product is appropriate for olive oil, champagne, soda and hard liquors. We’ve been testing it on wine, both red and white.
You’ll see in the pictures, a multiple aeration system with grid and an elongated tube. Most of the wine is aerated through the screen, with the long tube on top providing more aeration. The pour doesn’t look much different than a regular pour except for the dripless function, which works quite well.
Jean & Jim Haley invented the Corker because they liked different types of wine at meals. This meant multiple bottles opened at dinner. Since they couldn’t finish multiple bottles of wine, they needed a way to save wine to savor later. Thus began the Corker’s journey .
Haley’s Corker has a duel areation function, with wine pouring through mesh but also through a long tube where air alternates flow with wine – it bubbles. The tube acts as an air vent while also releasing fluid out of the bottle.
We’ve tested it with bottles of red wine, tasted on white bottles of wine and find it much more effective with a red bottle of wine. In fact we tested it with a buttery Chardonnay, and it stripped the butter out, completely. We took the Corker off that bottle.
With red wine, it immediately mellows out a freshly opened bottle of wine. If your palate is a little softer and you describe red wine as tasting a bit like ‘gasoline’, you’ll like this wine breathing system (though dedicated white wine sippers won’t stampede to the dark side just because of aeration.)
What did it do for our red wine?
1- Softened the wine’s tannin and the bite from the freshly opened bottle. Some people describe red wine as tasting a bit like gasoline (specially softer palates that only enjoy white wine.) The aeration knocked that down.
2- Brought the fruit forward, and we love the fruit!
3- Kept the taste stable, from opening the bottle to the last drop (we’re going to retest this, as we know wine changes all through the process of emptying it.)
Our testing method is simple, pour a straight sample taste of wine into one glass, pour an aereated sample taste of wine into another glass. Sip, taste, Sip, taste,
repeat. We’ve even duplicated this test with friends to see if the aerating suited just our palate, or the palates of others.
Hands down, everybody thinks the aerated red wine is better through Haley’s Corker. Even our hard core Cabernet friends thought their wine better.
In a phone interview, Jean described it’s beginnings, and it’s development. It took three years to bring the product to market, as they tested it with consumers and wineries. One of the big concerns was taste transfer. The big concern – having plastic transfer a different taste or alter the wine. It took them two years to find plastic with no taste or smell.
Jean recounted how some winemakers would, “smell and then literally lick her pourer to see if there was taste transfer.” When they finally hit upon the right material, they also had to solve problems with the dripless pour spout and cap. Both were enlarged to handle the daily use a pour spout might endure in day to day work.
Unlike the recently deposed CEO of J.C. Penney, Jean and Jim knew how to test their product with consumers. She said the criticism was grueling at times, but helpful. Even the name came from a testing session. They originally designated a Latin phrase as the name of the dispenser. But nobody could pronounce it. During a tasting somebody noticed that her last name was Haley. They suggested Haley’s Corker, just like Haley’s Comet. The name stuck, and now we can thank Jean and Jim for better tasting wine reminding us of the cosmos.
She also suggests using the corker with hard liquor and liqueurs. Just as it performs with a bottle of wine, it takes out the sometimes bitter and harsh taste of the liquor. She said the perfect example is Jack Daniels. She can’t drink it straight, but she can drink it through her pourer.
The Corker is sold at WineCorker.org in mixed color groups of eight, which includes a green cap designed slightly larger to fit into a screw cap bottle of wine. They sell retail in wineries we visited or you can purchase them directly. That set of eight will cost you $55.92 plus shipping and handling. They also sell five packs, four packs in three packs of one color, along with gift sets.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.
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