traveling and meeting other cultures: ideas, destinations, reviews and tips
Vinturi - Red Wine Aerator
Vinturi, red wine aerator, comes in a box that contains aerator itself, its stand, pouch and wine filter.
Vinturi without a stand.
Here, you will clearly see a small hole for the air to come inside the aerator and mix with wine.
Vinturi is a rather small device - see how it compares to a wine glass
Vinturi filter can trap cork and sediment.
It is a fact of life that wine requires breathing (oxygenating) to improve its taste. Actually, this may be an understatement since some wines simply do not taste good when just opened and are very unpleasant to drink (for example, Madiran, a Southern French wine, or Taurasi, an Italian wine produced in Campania). Most red wines, especially full body ones with higher content of tannins, become more enjoyable and less hash with tannins softened.
Oxygenating can be done by using decanters, or directly in your glass. The problem, or rather inconvenience, is that it may take from 15 to 30 and sometimes even 45 minutes before the wine takes enough oxygen. To accelerate the process you can use wine aerators. Their concept is very simple - Wine is poured through the top of the funnel, and, while passing the latter, wine is exposed to the air in a more significant way than when the wine is simply sitting in a decanter. I've seen several of those devices - the difference between them is how they they use the laws of physics to expose the wine to oxygen.
I had been familiar with these devices mostly by visiting some upscale restaurants. When you order expensive wine, it's not unusual to see a sommelier (a.k.a wine steward) or wine waiter using one of such aerators while transferring wine from the bottle to a decanter. But I have to admit, I had never seen these devices in retail, in particular in the U.S.
Sometimes you may come across other types of devices that claim to help oxygenate wine. They are designed as small glass pass-through containers (they can be in various shapes like spheres or amphoras sometimes with additional tubing) and manufactured mostly in Italy (it least to my knowledge). Examples include Vinoglobe, Versovino, Centellino, Decantino, Soiree, etc. - so called in-bottle wine decanters . Such devices are inserted into the bottle neck instead of the cork and the aeration action should take place while the wine passes them. However, the time and exposed to the air amount of wine are not significant - even if some aeration takes place, it is far from enough to oxygenate wine as it should be. As far as I am concerned, such devices are more useful as pour measurers (perhaps that's the reason they are often used to serve spirits).
The first widely available in retail wine aerator is Vinturi introduced at the end of 2006. The Vinturi Red Wine aerator (they also manufacture White Wine aerator, so do not be confused - I will talk more about it below) looks like an oblong plexiglass funnel (about 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter) with a rubber grip at its lower part (see photo). There are two small openings in the body of the funnel. When wine is poured into the funnel's top, because of the inner shape of the funnel, the air is drawn and mixed rather aggressively with wine (in a suction action) before it reaches the bottom of the funnel (coming slightly frothy). The suction sound is rather loud - if you do not hear it, that's because you are covering air openings with your fingers.
It seems that Vinturi name originates from the name of the Venturi effect, a reduction in fluid pressure when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe (Venturi effect is named after Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822), an Italian physicist). It also seems that the Venturi effect is the one responsible for the aeration action of the Vinturi (when reduction in fluid pressure draws the air). By the way, Vinturi is not the only device that uses this principle. Another one is DECANTUS™ and Respirer wine aerators. The latter is a part of The Wisp Wine Aerator system that in addition to aerator includes Flo Perfect pouring spout that enables the wine to pour from the bottle at the same rate as the aeration process.
Vinturi comes in box with travel pouch, filter (made of 8/8 stainless steel mesh) and a stand. The best price on Vinturi I've seen is $22.00 (2010 price). By the way, as any commercial enterprise, Vinturi is trying to expand its line or products. That's why we now can buy Vinturi tower (a fancy tall stand than can hold the aerator above wine glasses).
Vinturi also sells Vinturi White Wine Aerator claiming that "it's a longstanding myth that white wine does not need aeration. The truth is that white wine displays the same improvements with aeration as red wine." I can tell you up-front that this claim is not supported by any fact or actual practice. White wines are rarely too tannic. I would say claims like the above are nothing more than an attempt to make you purchase what you do not need.
Now, the question is - does Vinturi aerator works (for red wine)? It sure does. By my observations, one pass of wine through Vinturi is equivalent about 20 minutes of aerating wine using traditional methods (in decanter). Filter supplied can also be useful - it fits nicely the Vinturi top opening and helps get rid of sediments very often found at the bottom of good wine. I think "travel" pouch is useless - no matter how much I love red wine, I do not see myself traveling with Vinturi.
To finish, I would like to comment on some reviews where "experts" compare Vinturi against Respirer and DECANTUS™. The problem with this comparison is that it simply makes no sense. Obviously, all aerators are capable of oxygenating wine to a certain degree that, most likely, is different for all three devices. However, each and every wine (even of the same type from the same wine maker) will require different level of oxygen before it gets optimal taste. Thus, if one wine tastes better after using, say, Vinturi, all it means that Vinturi provides optimal oxygenation for this particular wine. But that may be not true for another wine that requires different level of aeration.
Bottom line - Vinturi, as well as all other similar aerators, can reduce significantly time needed for the wine to "breath." However, if I need an aerator, I would make my choice based on aesthetics, price and convenience in use.