Wine Decanter vs Aerator – Basic Guide 2020

Often times, some people swirl the wine around their glass. Generally, this is for the purpose of enhancing the flavor and the wine’s aroma. Yet, what’s challenging is to come up with the decision on how to properly do it. It’s actually choosing between wine decanter vs aerator. 

As we go along, we will share a brief definition of wine decanter and wine aerator and the way they work. Aside from that, we also have here some of the advantages and drawbacks of using these two equipment. So, if you want to know more about these two processes of wine improvement, let’s check it out below!

Wine Decanter Vs Aerator – Their Definition

So, in order to deeply understand and differentiate one from the other, let’s first take a look at the definition of wine decanter vs aerator.

Wine Decanter

Compared to aerator, wine decanter has lots of purposes. Primarily, it decants wine by making the wine exposed to different surface areas. For example, it covers the way a wine glass works yet on a greater scale. Due to this, asking for wine decanter vs aerator, the first one is far more effective.  

wine decanter vs aerator

Another thing is that wine decanter can generally help in identifying and preventing serving any sediments present in older red wines. Moreover, wine decanter also increases the temperature of the wine once it took out of the cellar too cold. Additionally, the artwork behind decanting is really appealing. From the glassware to its process, those who value the wine traditionally will really appreciate it. 

Wine Aerator

Basically, the equipment that pushes the wine through a funnel containing pressurized oxygen is called wine aerator. Moreover, the pressurized oxygen inside it enhances the rate of evaporation through vigorous rushing into the wine. Yet, in terms of this vigor, the aerators are generally not applicable for aged red wines which are fragile and those delicate white wines.

Typically, the wine aerators come in the form of bottle-stopper aerators which snugly fit on the opening of the wine bottle. Another form is the handheld aerators that are either put above or place directly on the wine glass. In order to start using the aerators, just simply pour on the wine into it.

Wine Decanter Vs Aerator – How They Work?

Another way on identifying which one you’d use between wine decanter vs aerator is to know the way that they work. Let’s see below how wine decanter vs aerator operates uniquely.

Process of Wine Decanting

Usually, aged wine which already lasted for about ten years and older developed sediments at the bottom of the wine bottle. The sediment is not actually poisonous but the wine texture becomes gritty. Aside from that, the wine may look unpleasant and the taste might not be exceptional for drinking.

The best way to remove sediments from wine is generally through decanting. Basically, hold a light against the wine bottle. This will typically help you to know the time to stop after the settlement of the sediment at the bottom. Another way is to simply stop at around a couple of inch from the bottom. 

Actually, some wine drinkers prefer to use a candle as a source of light. Also, keep in mind to decant wine after it has been standing for around 24 hours in an upright position. That’s why it is highly ideal to pull out the wine bottle from the cellar one day prior to uncork.

Process of Wine Aerating

For almost a long period of time, wines are generally staged in the bottle without their exposure to air. So, just before opening the wine bottles, wines must have to be exposed to air so that its entire aroma and flavor will also be exposed. Yet, bear in mind that not all wines must undergo aerating.

Usually, the cork of the wine bottle allows a small amount of air to escape within time. Knowing this, it is generally ideal to aerate red wines that are younger and bolder. One best example of this is the 2012 Syrah. Meanwhile, in terms of white wines, rare cases involve no aerating of wine at all.

Actually, various ways are available to aerate wines and many wine drinkers successfully do this. Exposing the wine into the air is generally the main goal of aerating. Moreover, another rudimentary way to aerate wine is to simply swirl it in a glass.

Afterwards, you can consider doing a simple taste test. This will basically help you to determine if the aerated wine has a better taste compared to the wine from the bottle. In case you can’t smell any wine nuances and there is a tad wobbly on the first sip, it is good to aerate the wine. Furthermore, you can also do aerating if there is an overpowering element in the wine or the tannins are overly intense.

Wine Decanter Vs Aerator – Which Wine to Decant?

Generally, most types of wine can be decanted. This may include the young to old wine or red to white wine. Actually, in terms of wine decanter vs aerator, almost all wines may find decanting an advantage even for some seconds. Moreover, due to the intense tannins concentration, the young and stronger red wines must be decanted.

Red Wines

Decanting is highly suitable for most red wines. Affordable wines also need to be decanted for the purpose of improving the flavor. However, the time of decanting may vary based on the type and age of the wine. In addition, the time of decanting ranges from a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum of 3 hours and above.

Check this list of decanting times for different wines:


  • Zinfandel
  • Pinot Noir 


  • Malbec
  • Grenache or Garnacha Blend 


  • Merlot 
  • Petite Sirah
  • Tempranillo 
  • Sangiovese 
  • Vintage Port and Madeira


  • Mourvedre or Monastrell
  • Dao and Douro Reds
  • Syrah or Shiraz


  • Nebbiolo

White Wines

Basically, decanting is not required for most white wines. Actually, this process may damage the wine if it is highly aromatic. Yet, in some cases, there are white wines that have a funky taste similar to a steamed mushroom. Knowing this, decanting is the best solution. 

This funky flavor is generally popular for full-bodied white wines in cooler climates. One best example of this is the Bourgogne or Chardonnay. The decanting time for this usually takes around 30 minutes.

Other Wines

  • Mature Red Wine

In case the red wine is already 20+ years old, it is better to decant prior to serving. If its age is still less than 20 years, it is generally advisable to check it on a regular basis. Simply taste a small sample to determine if the tannins already smoothed out and the aromas are fully present.

  • Full-bodied Red Wine

Common examples of this wine are the Charbono, Aglianico, Sagrantino, and Barbera. Also included are the other red wines with high tannin contents. Their color is generally close to opaque which require around 3+ hours of decanting time. 

  • Medium-bodied Red Wine

Medium-bodied red wines like Franc, Lagrein, Cabernet, and Dolcetto basically have semi-translucent color. They may have high acidity for some time and medium amounts of tannins. Generally, these wines should be decanted for about 1 hour.

  • Champagne

Decanting young vintage Champagne works by serving it through the use of a coupe glass or Burgundy-style glass.

Wine Decanter Vs Aerator – Which Wine to Aerate?

As we said, choosing between wine decanter vs aerator highly depends on the wine that you will have to drink. In terms of aerating, wines that can undergo this process are some of the red wines and white wines. 

Red Wines

When we speak of aerating red wines, we can conclude that all of the young red wines will generally benefit from it by improving its flavor. Actually, it is true that there are wines that include a higher amount of tannins due to the type of grape and winemaking process. Moreover, aerating wine will basically offer a well-balanced wine with softened tannins. It also enhances the flavor and releases a great wine aroma in the air.

Generally, most wines made from Cabernet grapes have a higher content of tannins regardless if they are made in the traditional or innovative world. Aside from that, most Italian and Spanish wines also contain higher tannins. Basically, these wines will acquire relevant benefit from wine aerating process. Moreover, it will be easy for the amateur wine drinkers to determine the difference of the wine in terms of taste and smell. 

Here are the examples of red wines that need to be aerated:

  • Cabernet Sauvignons
  • Cabernet Francs
  • Barolo
  • Bordeaux
  • Northern Rhone Valley
wine decanter vs aerator

White Wines

Nowadays, aerating white wines has now become popular with most of the full-bodied white wines. Generally, aerating the white wine may enhance the smooth texture of the wine and the blend among its flavors. Moreover, this process helps to showcase the wine’s real characteristic. Basically, Burgundy, Chardonnay, and Chennin are the popular white wines that need to be aerated for the improvement of the taste.

Wine Decanter Vs Aerator – The Pros and Cons

If you are asking which one is better from wine decanter vs aerator, well, it highly depends on your preference and on the type of wine that you’d like to drink. Below are the good sides and downsides of using the two. 

Pros of Using Wine Decanter

  • Applicable in decanting wines that are more delicate such as the old red wines and white wines
  • Used alternatively to increase the temperature of the wine
  • The glassware is very attracting which enhances the wine experience

Cons of Using Wine Decanter

  • The process usually takes up around 3 hours
  • Decanters actually come in large shapes which make it harder to store and clean
  • In terms of the price of wine decanter vs aerator, the decanter is more costly

Pros of Using Wine Aerator

  • Immediately aerates wine
  • Can pour wine directly on the glass
  • Available for as low as $10 to $20
  • The size is small which makes it very convenient to clean and store
Image courtesy of The Wine Aerator

Cons of Using Wine Aerator

  • Generally not ideal for red wines that are already aged
  • Highly suitable for white wines
  • The design is not actually appealing
Key Takeaway

So, from the advantages and disadvantages that they offer, let’s analyze wine decanter vs aerator to make it clear. Wine aerator generally aerates wine faster and cost lesser. Basically, if drinking too many expensive wines is not a thing for you, using an aerator is ideal.

Meanwhile, if you occasionally go for a mature red wine and you really appreciate the old-style wine service experience; wine decanter is the best choice to pick. Yet, be very careful in choosing one as collecting darn things is just around the corner.  

The Don’ts of Wine Decanting and Aerating

After having basic knowledge regarding wine decanter vs aerator know-about, these two processes look generally straightforward. Yet, before pouring that wine ahead and swirling those glasses, check these few tips that you do not need to do during decanting and aerating wines.

  • Don’t instruct guests to do wine aerating by swirling it on everyone’s glasses.
  • Do not demand all wine drinkers do wine aerating as it is always a personal choice.
  • Don’t try to aerate wine through an overnight process or via the use of refrigerator. Bear in mind that aerating should be done immediately prior to wine serving. Generally, exposure to air for a long period of time may give the wine an overly astringent or vinegar-like taste. Moreover, the refrigerator functions as a mild dehumidifier and will spoil the open wine bottle quickly.
  • Do not try to bring the topic on if the bottle is not decanted. Actually, the sediment may not be noticeable by the guests and it may not be harmful. It is highly advisable not to mention it to the guests until such time that someone notices it.  

Wine Aerator Decanter

In case you are still in doubt what to choose between wine decanter vs aerator, then you may consider the wine aerator decanter. This looks like the decanters but basically include an aerator located in the opening. Its location is right on top which is noticeable after uncorking a wine bottle with an opener. However, it is a kind of aerator that is actually of a simpler type which maximizes the surface area by simple pouring.

Basically, it doesn’t force the wine to go into the funnel with pressurized oxygen. The wine is simply poured on the nodes that distribute it outward. Or, the wine will also turn into small droplets in the form of a spray which travel down the decanter sides. 

Afterwards, the wine will then linger into the vessel where the surface area can be maximized. In case you decided to use this wine aerator decanter, it is basically important to know that wine decanting will not be necessary for a long time period after it has been poured on the aerator. Another thing to keep in mind is that aged red wines, light-bodied white wines and delicates ones must not be poured on the aerator.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between wine decanter vs aerator might be tricky but it generally helps in improving the taste and flavor of the wine. Yet, knowing the proper way of decanting and aerating wine demands for a little bit of effort in terms of trial and error. That’s why it is not ideal to experiment with the best wine bottles. Moreover, it is better to conduct a taste test and enjoy the moment of your wine experience. 

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