What Does Aerating Wine Do?

If you’re an avid wine lover, you’ve probably heard about letting wine breathe, but exactly what does aerating wine do? Is it necessary to aerate wine? Which wines benefit from aeration? Those are the questions we’re here to answer for you. Take a look at the guide below to learn what aerating wine does, how to use an aerator, and which wines to use it for.

What Does Aerating Wine Mean?

Did you know that aeration occurs every time you open a bottle of wine and pour some wine into a glass? Aeration is the process of letting wine breathe. It involves expanding the wine’s surface area to maximize air exposure.

Introducing wine to air initiates two key chemical processes: oxidation and evaporation. Oxidation occurs when something is exposed to air. Evaporation occurs when a liquid transforms into vapor. When it comes to wine, the unwanted ingredients in the wine evaporate, leaving only the good ones behind thanks to oxidation. These processes enhance the wine’s scent and flavor for an improved tasting experience.

friends tasting red wine - what does aerating wine do?

Does Aerating Wine Make a Difference?

Aeration is an essential part of drinking wine, particularly medium and full-bodied reds. Red wine contains natural chemical compounds called tannins, which have a bitter taste. Aeration softens these tannins to balance the wine’s scent and flavors. Without aeration, you’d be puckering your lips every time you took a sip of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Benefits of Aerating Wine

These are the top two reasons you should aerate your wine.

  1. Compound Evaporation: Aeration removes excess sulfites and ethanol compounds—including tannins—from the wine. This process enhances the good flavors while muting the unfavorable ones.
  2. Balanced Flavors: While compounds like tannins don’t cause wine to go bad, they can negatively impact the wine’s flavor. During aeration, these sulfites and compounds evaporate from the wine, which improves its flavor.

Man pouring wine with an aerator

How to Aerate Wine

There are three main ways you can aerate wine: with aerating wine glasses, a decanter, or an aerator. Here’s a breakdown of each method, including pros and cons.

Aerating Wine Glass

An aerating wine glass is a type of wine glass that has an ample surface area for the wine to breathe. You can aerate the wine by swirling it around in the glass.

Pros: You can aerate wine by the glass, which is ideal for solo wine drinkers.

Cons: You can only aerate by the glass, which isn’t ideal if you’re serving wine at a dinner party or other group event where the demand is greater.


A decanter is a large glass container—often resembling a flower vase—that holds wine by the bottle. Depending on the volume of the decanter, it could hold more than one bottle of wine at a time.

Pros: Wine decanters are aesthetically pleasing, often serving as part of one’s home decor. They also offer a generous volume, and the wide bottom maximizes aeration.

Cons: The biggest downside to decanters is that they take longer to aerate wine than alternative methods.


Last but not least is the aerator. This device attaches to the end of a wine bottle and aerates the wine as you pour it. While a decanter can take up to a few hours to aerate, an aerator does the job in a matter of seconds. Simply open a bottle of wine and attach it!

Pros: They aerate wine on demand and by the glass.

Cons: They’re not as aesthetically pleasing as decanters or carafes.

aerating wine with a decanter

What Is a Wine Aerator?

An aerator is a compact device that secures onto the end of the wine bottle, allowing you to pour the wine straight into your glass. They’re available in various shapes, sizes, designs, and prices. Most feature simple on/off operation. You can find quality aerators online and in our Wine Cellar Outlet stores!

Wine develops aromas when it comes in contact with oxygen. Since an aerator accelerates the aeration process, these distinctive aromas develop more quickly and are more well-rounded.

How to Use a Wine Aerator

Place the aerator onto the end of the wine bottle, hold the bottle at a 45° angle, and pour as you normally would. That’s all there is to it. Even beginners can master the art of using an aerator.

using a wine aerator to pour red wine into a glass

Which Wines Should Be Aerated?

Knowing which wines to aerate (and which ones not to) can make or break your wine sipping experience. Not all wines benefit from aeration.

Light-bodied red wines, for example, don’t need to be aerated because they’re designed to be consumed fairly quickly. While white wines can be aerated, they often don’t need to be. We only recommend aeration for some chardonnays and full-bodied whites originating from areas like Bordeaux, Alsace, and Burgundy. Other whites don’t have enough tannins to necessitate aeration.

But other wines—like young reds, old reds with sediment, and full-bodied reds—benefit greatly from aeration because of their high tannin content. These are some popular red wines that should always be aerated:

  • Petite Sirah
  • Merlot
  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Syrah
  • Bordeaux
  • Nebbiolo

Stock Up on Your Favorite Wine Bottles

Whether you’re planning a get-together with friends or a night of solo self-care, a bottle of wine is the perfect companion. Our Cellar Collection features red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines from vineyards all over the world. Plus, they won’t break the bank. Browse the collection today or stop by your local Wine Cellar store to pick up a few bottles that will go great with your new aerator.

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