As winter sets, it’s time to retire your usual glass of white wine and reach for a warming glass of red. But whether you prefer a beaujolais or a sangiovese, when it comes to enjoying wine you first have to unlock the aromas in the bottle. And the best way to do that is to aerate it. The process of aerating wine is simply exposing the wine to air. Giving your wine access to oxygen will give the sulphites time to evaporate, smooth out the tannins and make all the difference to the flavour and intensity.
There are many ways to aerate wine, including pouring it into a decanter, swirling it around your glass, or using an aerator. The latter is a small, usually plastic device that either attaches to the bottle or is handheld. Its purpose is to provide oxygen to the wine while it’s being poured to quicken the aeration process.
One of the key processes that take place during aeration is the breakdown of the tannins in the wine. Tannins are extracted from the skins, seeds and stems of the grape during the production process. They are what gives a bitter and astringent aftertaste. Tannins are more dominant in younger wines that haven’t had time to soften with age and, as a rule of thumb, the more tannins in a wine, the more the wine will benefit from aeration. While aeration can work well with rosè wine; there is little point in using it with white wine, as whites have fewer tannins to start with.
There are three types of aerators; handheld, in-bottle and electric. A handheld aerator is held over the glass, and the wine is poured through. An in-bottle aerator is a stopper, aerator and pourer in one device, and an electric one uses mains or battery power to deliver fully aerated wine at the touch of a button.
Wine aerators are also a lot quicker than aerating your wine using a decanter, which takes a minimum of 90 minutes, although for best results, you’ll want to leave it for a few hours. The majority of wine aerators are small, compact and extremely easy to use.
How we tested
We tested each wine aerator using a budget supermarket bottle of wine and a higher-end bottle to test the difference in aroma and taste. We also looked at how it was handled, how it looked and how easy it was to clean
The best wine aerators for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Ullo wine purifier: £70, Boroughkitchen.com
- Best budget – Flow wine aerator pourer: £9.95, Flowbarware.co.uk
- Best in-bottle – Le Creuset aerator pourer: £16.50, Selfridges.com
- Best handheld – Angel aerator: £9.99, Nakedwines.com
- Best design – Soiree classic wine aerator: £17.50, Harveynichols.com
- Best with base – Flow red wine aerator: £12.95, Flowbarware.co.uk
- Best with decanter – Le Creuset vitesse: £69.99, Johnlewis.com
- Best electric – Wake up wine electric decanter: £129.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Ullo wine purifier
Ullo was designed by James Kornacki, a doctor at Northwestern University in Chicago, who loved wine but was sensitive to sulphites. His mission was to bring wine back to its natural state without the artificial sulphites that are added as a preservative.
The Ullo comprises a cup, the filter and the aerator. You pour the wine through the cup into a glass or carafe. Its wide opening makes it easy to pour through. There is also an adjustable aerator you twist on if you want your wine aerated or twist the opposite way if you don’t. This is perfect if you want to use the Ullo on whites or a rose that doesn’t need to be aerated, but you still want to remove the presence of sulphites.
The filters use selective sulphite capture technology, which removes the sulphites and sediment from the bottle. The filters are single-use and can purify a standard 750ml bottle. It comes with a rubber base, so there won’t be any drips or stains left when you’re in between glasses.
This is a really nifty little wine aerator, it’s compact and easy to store. The wine did taste better and we love how easy it was to use. Plus, the Ullo is made using a BPA-free polymer so it’s stain-resistant and dishwasher safe.
Flow wine aerator pourer
This budget-friendly, two-in-one wine aerator and pourer instantly aerates your wine as you pour it into the glass. It has a distinctive shape and is an in-bottle aerator, so just pop it in your bottle and pour away. It has a 150-degree angled tip so there are no drips or wasted wine when you’re pouring. It has a good-sized chamber that offers more oxygen to the wine during the pouring process and can be used with any style of wine bottle, whether screw cap or cork. It’s lightweight and portable, so this is a great aerator to take with you when travelling, as well as for use at home. It’s really easy to clean as it comes apart, and has a full moulded acrylic body which is durable and stain-resistant.
Le Creuset aerator pourer
This combined aerator and pourer from Le Creuset is a traditional in-bottle design. It offers a drip-free pour and extremely fast aeration. This nifty gadget sits inside the bottle’s neck and aerates through the spout as the wine is poured. There is just one central hole that increases the airflow and instantly aerates and unlocks the flavour.
Made from moulded plastic, it has rubber grips on the base so it won’t slip out of the bottle when you’re pouring. It’s also drip-free. To clean, you just need to wash it with warm soapy water after use. It’s suitable for all standard sized wine bottles, including screw caps. It’s very lightweight and compact, so easy to store and travel with if needed. The wine is definitely improved when using this aerator, it tastes lighter and doesn’t linger on the pallet.
This aerator is proof you don’t need to spend a fortune in order to enjoy a good glass of wine. Its wide chamber really lets the wine mingle with the air to make the wine taste smoother and more intense. It can be used to pour directly into a glass or decanter. It is easy to handle and very comfortable to use. It has one central hole with two offshoots, so the wine meets in the middle chamber and gets the oxygen it needs. It also has a small mesh basket that will catch any sediment while you’re pouring. It’s really solid and durable, and will last a long time. It also comes with a small hard plastic stand so you can display it and ensure there are no drips or spills after pouring.
Soiree classic wine aerator
The Soiree classic wine aerator has a unique design and is made from glass, so it feels very premium. It’s an in-bottle aerator that simply twists into the neck of any bottle and can be poured straight into a glass without needing a decanter. The only downside is that you have to make sure that it’s fully inserted into the bottle, because you have to turn the bottle upside down to be able to pour. Once it’s 180-degrees, the wine simply cascades through the aerator and into the glass. One of our favourite things about this aerator is how hypnotic it is while the wine swirls around the globe. It comes with a small stand, as it is very delicate, but it’s also nice enough that you’ll want to have it on display. Keeping it clean is easy. There are no filters to change. You just simply run it under the tap and let it air dry.
Flow red wine aerator
Best: With base
This handheld aerator gives you instant access to wine with improved flavours and aromas. To use, hold this aerator over a glass and as the wine flows through the pourer, oxygen is sucked into the chamber, instantly oxygenating the wine and bringing out those complex flavours. It has a removable filter that will catch any sediment.
The aerator is easy to clean, you just run it under the tap when you’re done and leave it to dry. We really loved the design, and it has a display stand that also doubles up to stop any leaks and drips from forming. It’s very small and compact and ships with a storage pouch, making it ideal for taking with you when you’re out for dinner or having a picnic in the park.
Le Creuset vitesse 1.5l glass decanter, aerator and cleaning balls set
Best: With decanter
Just because you don’t need a decanter when you have an aerator, it doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have. This aerator set is absolutely beautiful. It comes with a 1.5l handmade crystalline glass decanter (ideal for a standard 75cl bottle of wine) and an aerating fountain that holds the bottle vertically, sending a stream of bubbles to flow up into the wine bottle, starting the aeration process. The wine is then circulated around the inside of the decanter, which has a wide base so it can enjoy full aeration. We absolutely loved that this aerator set comes with a cleaning system, so it’s always ready for the next bottle. It’s hand-wash only, and it comes with small metal stainless steel bearings which are poured into the decanter to remove any residues left over from your last bottle of wine.
Wake Up Wine electric decanter
If you love wine and a gadget, you’ll adore this electric decanter. This is a fast, fun and convenient way to enhance the flavour of your favourite wine. It couldn’t be easier to use. It works by pouring the wine into the decanter and setting it down onto the electric pad. You then set the timer, and if you’re not sure about how long you should leave your wine, then there is a handy guide included with the timings for the different varieties.
This also works on spirits as well as white, rose and orange wine. The built-in arm swirls the wine to increase the surface area and infuse the oxygen. When in use, it’s a really quiet machine, although it does have a built-in Bluetooth speaker so you can play your favourite tunes whilst you’re waiting for your wine to aerate. The decanter is really pleasant to use, and its wide pouring spout makes it easy to pour into the glass without any drips or leaks.
The verdict: Wine aerators
If you love wine, then you’re going to want your best glass every time. An aerator can certainly go some way to helping you achieve that. All of the aerators we have featured in this round-up improved the taste of the wines we used in testing. But the Ullo wine purifier helped bring out complex aromas and flavours in just seconds. Because the system is designed to sit on top of your glass, it’s perfect if you just want to drink one glass of wine but don’t want to have to pour the whole bottle out in order to aerate. It’s also easy to clean, and thanks to its rubber base, you won’t have any drips or stains left behind after use.
The Wake Up Wine electric decanter is also another top pick. It’s fun to use and also does a really good job at aerating the wine. And we also loved the angel aerator from Naked Wine because it’s easy to use and really well made.
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