Blue Lifestyle

Home of James Beard Foundation Award winner Anthony Dias Blue, one of the most influential food, wine, spirits, and lifestyle personalities in the United States.


It’s the last quarter of 2011, and I want you to be prepared:  it’s pretty much already holiday entertaining season. At the very least, it’s the time of year when harvest is underway in most of America’s wine-growing regions, and everyone’s mind is on wine. This year, I think we’re all a bit taken aback by how quickly time flew by.  It seems like just a few weeks ago we were giving tips on backyard barbeques, and now we’re talking host and hostess gifts, and new vintage offerings are hitting the shelves from our favorite wineries.

As you see new Napa Cabernets, Italian Sangiovese blends, Oregon Pinots, and Bordeaux become the stars of your wine shop’s display cases, you should start to stock up for all of your entertaining needs in the coming weeks.

If your go-to gift for autumn dinner parties is a nice bottle of wine-- and I assume it is, if you’re a loyal listener of Blue Lifestyle, and have been taking notes on our recommendations during the wine of the week segment-- may I suggest pairing another little gizmo with the bottle you’re bringing?

It’s a common gift for wine aficionados that often sits on a shelf, gathering dust:

It’s the humble aerator, and let me tell you-- I’m a huge fan of them.

Have you ever opened up a bottle of red, poured a glass, sipped, and felt your tongue just seize up? Or felt that somehow you weren’t getting all the flavor that the wine should be giving you?

That’s because of chemicals called “tannins” that leave your mouth feeling puckered and dry Tannins can also be found in, a cup of Earl Grey that has been steeped too long.

Tannins occur in wine, regardless of price point, or how long a wine has been aged.

In aged wines, tannins begin to mellow out, and aren’t as harsh and surprising.

One of the best ways to reduce the shock of tannins in wine is to decant the bottle-- you know, expose more of the wine to air, by expanding a wine’s surface area. After all, the wine has been locked in that bottle for a long time – it needs to stretch its legs (no pun intended). Yes, you can use a decanter, but….

Decanters are generally large and single purpose, so most of us without unlimited kitchen space aren’t keen on owning them.  They also shouldn’t ever be run through a dishwasher, because leftover detergent deposits can totally kill a great bottle of wine.  Hand-washing delicate glassware is quite the chore, so even though I own a few decanters-- more often than not, they end up being kitchen decoration, instead of useful devices.

Sure, you could own a vessel that serves multiple purposes-- even glass juice pitchers can serve as decanters And I’ve even seen people decant wine into vases in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

But if you want to minimize the formality and fanfare of a glass of wine- I suggest: invest in an aerator. They’re pocket sized pieces of glass or plastic that do the same job as decanters But in a fraction of the time, and take up ⅛ the space in the kitchen.

The absolutely best aerators on the market right now are the Vinturi wine aerators, available in red wine or white wine styles.  They’re even now making travel-sized Vinturi aerators, which are just fantastic and well as a special one for spirits.

Just hold a Vinturi aerator over your glass and slowly pour wine into the top opening. You’ll begin to hear the unmistakable sound of bubbles being introduced to your wine. This increased exposure to air  will “open up” the wine Making sure you taste all the facets of the wine’s flavor And don’t just get a mouthful of tannin and alcohol when you take your first sip.

The Vinturi white wine aerator allows even more air into white wines Which really increases the fruity and floral notes of a wine’s flavor.

Trust me when I say that pouring a young Chardonnay or Viognier through this aerator will make a world of difference.

The Vinturi aerator set of one full-sized red and a full-sized white is available online for about $70-- it’s not chump change, but since they’re made of durable acrylic, you’ll probably only ever need the one set.  The aerators are available individually, too, if you only partake in red or white wine.  The travel-sized Vinturi aerator is an absolute steal-- each aerator is about $40.  A nice gift bag of a Vinturi aerator and a quality Argentine Malbec would be a great holiday gift.

And if your friends are more dedicated to spirits than wine, here’s a hint: Vinturi’s spirits aerator.

With a slightly different design than the amazingly effective wine models, the Vinturi spirit aerator will open up the nose and dissipate the strong alcohol scent that can often mask the complexity of your favorite spirit.  This works absolute wonders for whisky and Scotch-- but can also be used on rums, tequila, gin and many other sippable spirits.

I’ll touch upon the spirit aerator in more detail later-- it’s really a spectacular invention.

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