Wine Aerator Vs Decanter – Which One Is Best?

Many wine experts believe that a majority of red wines should be aerated before being consumed. The process of aeration exposes the wines to air before drinking it. This usually helps to open up the flavors of the wine and allow it to settle comfortably into its very own character and taste. Both an aerator and decanter can help with the process, but which is better – a wine aerator or a decanter – and when should the techniques be used?

A similar purpose is served by both an aerator and decanter. They work to expand the wine’s surface area, which enable air to mingle with the wine. Whether the wine is placed in a large vessel called a decanter or air is forced into the wine with an aerator, it results in wine having softer tannins and an expanded aromatic profile.

Differences Between A Wine Decanter And Aerator

Decanters are tall, wide glass pitchers used for serving wine. They provide a wide surface area for the wine that results in it being exposed to the air surrounding it. When the air and wine mix together it results in tannins being reduced and a bouquet being developed. This makes it easier to identify the wine’s true essence. Simply uncorking the bottle before it is served does not produce the same result, since not enough air will be infused into the bottle. The key to the process is the decanter’s wide surface area. For many people this is their preferred method since the process works slowly this way, which allows the air to organically mix with the wine without spoiling it.

Old red wines benefit from some decanting. That is due to the fact that some tannins and chemicals can start binding together, which over time creates sediment within the bottle. With wines that are less than 10 years old this usually isn’t an issue. However, after a wine is over a decade old, sediment starts to become a concern. A decanter can help to separate sediment out of an older red wine.


A decanter is the preferred method of many for letting a wine breathe. However, an aerator can also be a useful device. Similar to a decanter, an aerator works to mix air with wine. With the aeration method, wine gets poured inside of a funnel-like device. Air is then infused in the wine as it is passing from the bottle into the glass. Time is the major benefit of the aeration method. It is a much faster process compared to decanting. Air gets infused while the wine is poured. This helps to highlight the tannins and bouquet of the wine without taking a lot of time.

Young red wines frequently benefit the most from the aeration process, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux.

When should these methods be used?

It isn’t necessary to infuse every wine with air in order to enjoy it. As a rule of thumb, you should plan on aerating or decanting red wines but not white wines. That is due to the fact that red wines posses higher tannin profiles and when air is allowed to infuse with these wines it helps to mellow out the tannins. There are some exceptions, however. A dry and full bodied white wine, such as an Alsace or White Bordeaux, can benefit from being decanted for around 30 minutes before it is served.

There are also some groups of red wines that shouldn’t be aerated. They include lower priced wines and softer reds, like Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.