Buying wine for the wine lover on your Christmas shopping list is fraught with peril. Do you know their tastes? Do you know their favorite varietals? Can you afford their favorites?
A gift certificates for a nearby wine shop is a nice gift. But unless you are certain of the person's wine tastes, stick with wine accessories. You can buy all sorts of devices to remove the cork, to chill wine, and more. There is one gadget though which can be a nice addition to any vino lover's wine accessories.
Consider buying an aerator. While the gadget isn't new to the wine world, it hasn't been around long. Aerators can be found at better wine and liquor stores and some household stores that carry wine glasses and decanters.
For years wine drinkers would pour their wines into a decanter to soften the bite of the tannins on the finish. But in our 'no patience, no time, and can't wait' society sometimes that's not good enough.
Enter Vinturi the manufacturer of the original wine aerator. Essentially, you pour wine through an aerator and oxygen is infused into the wine as it enters the glass and softens the taste.
Vinturi offers a base model and a Vinturi Tower model (which holds the aerator), a white wine aerator, and a travel model. The base aerator is usually priced around $35-$40. The aerator with the tower holder will cost from $50-$60.
The newer in-bottle aerators are less messy. Both of the samples I tried have a rubber-sealed neck which goes right into the bottle.
The Soiree ($20-$25) is a bubble with a spout. When you turn a wine bottle upside down the wine swirls over the bubble and into your glass. The third aerator was an in-bottle type with a sleek spout for pouring. VinOair from CorkPops would be great for travel or taking to a party. The VinOair is the least expensive of the three at $16.
But do these things work? Ask any regular wine drinker with aerator experience, and the answer may vary. For me, they do a nice job of making a big red wine ready to drink.
An aerator is a gift a wine friend might not have in their collection yet. All three companies have good websites where you can find local retailers.
Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes about value wine every other week for 21 Midwestern newspapers. Reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.