Letting wine breathe involves exposing it to air for up to 20 minutes before drinking it. This will generally improve a wine that has not yet fully aged, particularly a high-tannin red wine like a Syrah or Cabernet. On the other hand, a wine expert might gasp in horror (losing his monocle in the process) at letting a well-aged Pinot Noir breathe. Those of us with less-refined palates or a taste for bargain-hunting may get more bang for our bucks by letting our cheap wines mingle with the air before drinking them. Wine cannot breathe well in the bottle because there’s so little surface area exposed to air. Common breathing methods involve pouring wine into a decanter, which has a broad cross-section for maximum air exposure, or just pouring a glass and letting it sit for a while.
Of course, impatient cheapskates everywhere want to make this process go faster. Enter the wine aerator: a device intended to expose wine to a lot of air in a short time so that it can go from bottle to glass to mouth almost immediately. Vinturi makes a well-known, well-regarded aerator; it looks handsome and makes a cheerful slurping sound as wine funnels through it into your glass. However, the Vinturi aerator costs anywhere from $24 to $40 (that’s actually cheaper than it used to be), which is just enough that I decided to build my own aerator. I’ll show you how to do it with $10 worth of plumbing parts.
My aerator design ensures that the wine mixes with air by forcing the wine through numerous small holes in the pipe fittings. The shaft in the center provides air to a mixing chamber inside the aerator. You probably could get similar effects just by pouring your wine through any kind of screen or colander, but I thought it would be more fun to engineer an effective solution that could also be cleaned easily. There are simpler ways to achieve the same end, but here are the parts I used:
- 1 1/4″ to 3/4″ threaded flush reducing bushing
- 1 1/4″ female threaded adapter
- 1 1/4″ male threaded adapter
- 3/4″ male threaded adapter
- 1/2″ threaded riser/extender
- 1/2″ threaded plug
-PTFE (“Teflon”) thread seal tape
-Rubber stopper to fit 1/2″ plug
-Empty pen or other thin, rigid tube
Screw the flush reducing bushing into the large female adapter. Screw the 3/4″ adapter into the matching side of the bushing. The 3/4″ adapter will be the base of the aerator.
Wrap PTFE tape around the threads on the large male adapter until it is large enough to fit snugly in the unthreaded end of the female adapter, then twist these two pieces together. The main body of the aerator is complete.
You’ll need to add holes to both of the 1/2″ PVC parts. Drill several holes in an even pattern across the face of the plug so it acts as a screen. Drill additional holes in the neck of the 1/2″ extender just above the threads.
Screw the 1/2″ plug into the female end of the 1/2″ extender. The rubber stopper will now end up inside the 1/2″ plug. Drill a hole through the rubber stopper and stab the pen through to act as an air shaft. Wrap the threads of the extender in PTFE tape so it will fit snugly inside the throat of the main aerator body.
Secure the stopper inside the 1/2″ plug. The combined pen/stopper/plug apparatus fits inside the main aerator when in use.
With the entire aerator assembled, any wine poured in the top will emerge highly aerated below. It may look like a Stormtrooper rifle, but it’s cheaper than buying a Venturi aerator.