Wine Aerators: $336.9 Million Worth of Bullsh*t

So the saying goes: “A fool and his money are soon parted.” We might be the species that has taken tool-wielding the farthest, but our real triumph as human beings will forever be finding ways to part our fellows with hard-earned money.

I’m a die-hard capitalist myself, with a full belief in the power of entrepreneurship and the rights of anyone to invent a business that puts food on their table as long as it’s not harming people in the process. That’s important for you to know before you read a statement like: wine aerators are a scourge on the face of the wine industry and a complete and utter waste of money.

There is no single product (OK, maybe the Clef du Vin or the OMNE wand ) that is more useless, overpriced, and just plain irrelevant in the wine industry than any one of the hundreds of different wine aeration devices that have been “invented” to help wine lovers enjoy their wines more.

Wine aerators are a scourge on the face of the wine industry and a complete and utter waste of money.

Despite this, according to a recent report, Americans spent $336.9 million dollars on wine aerators last year. And if the folks who put that report together are correct, by 2030 we’ll be spending $592,000,000 on these little plastic and metal pieces of junk yearly. That, my wine-loving friends, is a half-billion-dollar tragedy.

Nobody needs a wine aerator

A wine aerator is the equivalent of a $69.99 device that will cool your hot soup down faster, so you can eat it more quickly. Who the hell needs something like that?

No one.

There are several ways to accomplish the same thing, including patience, that don’t require anything more in the way of tools than what the human body already provides us. That and maybe a large glass jar.

Certainly, there are wines that benefit from aeration, both individual wines as well as classes of wine. I’ve always felt, for instance, that Sangiovese-based wines improve immensely with some air, as do most skin-contact white wines.

But aeration is something that happens naturally starting from the moment the bottle is opened.

Want to aerate your wine even more? Pour some in a glass.

Want to aerate that wine a bit more? Swirl that glass.

Need faster aeration? Pour the whole damn bottle out into a glass vessel that can hold a liter of liquid.

Sure, you could pay big bucks for one of those fancy crystal decanters that you can’t even get your hand inside to clean properly, or you could use a big glass jar or a glass flower vase.

My favorite decanter? A $15 glass lemonade pitcher. Easy to clean, comes with a handle, and I can break five of them before I’m even close to the price of the cheapest Riedel decanter. Having dropped one or two on the floor already without breakage, I can say that they’re a damn sight more sturdy as well.

wine splashing in glass

Wine aerators have jumped the shark

I’ve seen hand-blown glass aerators. I’ve seen contraptions that look like expensive sex toys. I’ve seen app-controlled pure oxygen dispensers. I’ve seen devices that look like they’ve come out of Tony Stark’s R&D lab, complete with impressive phrases like “laminar flow” attached to them.

I’ve tried most of them, and they’re all junk.

From ugly to beautiful, from low-tech to space-age—every one of them universally dumb and unneeded—I thought I had seen it all.

But then the other day I got a pitch for the lamest, most ridiculous wine aeration device I have ever heard of.

I kid you not, this was a plastic device that you attach to the rim of your wine glass. It sticks down into your wine so that, if the marketing claims can be believed, when you swirl the wine in your glass, it gets much more aerated than normal.

Of course, you could just stick your finger in there and do the same thing, but why be so gauche when you can have a neon-colored piece of shit plastic sticking down into your glass to do the same thing. And of course, that plastic has been shaped (no doubt using sophisticated computer modeling) to dramatically increase the (insert really cool sounding phrase like “chaotic fluid dynamics” here) in a way that your finger could just never manage.

I’m not going to link to this product’s website, I’m not even going to tell you the name of it. I don’t want even just a few more hits on their website to encourage them.

Wine aerators are shitty gifts

I know, I know, you want to get something for that wine loving friend of yours, and you’re worried about getting the wrong bottle of wine, and lord knows they’ve probably already got a decent corkscrew.

Trust me, they don’t want a damn wine aerator, any more than they want a cast iron toothpick holder or a set of napkin rings with rhinestone kittens on them. If you do buy them one, maybe they’ll use it once or twice, but then it will end up in the same drawer as the melon baller and those stupid little felt collars that someone invented once to catch the drips that run down the side of a wine bottle.

I’m sure I’ll get hate mail from Vinturi corporate for this screed, as well as nasty comments from those of you who swear by your wine aerators.

Your friends don’t want a wine aerator any more than they want a cast-iron toothpick holder.

We’re each free to spend our precious cash however we see fit. Just as free as these companies are to make a buck off our uncertainty about whether we’re getting the most out of our wine. And if we get pleasure and satisfaction from our purchase, well what’s wrong with that?

Nothing really. But everything.

I have moral objections to products that play on our insecurities. I also have a strong suspicion (but no research or proof to back it up) that the carbon footprint of all these devices ain’t that small. If each one of these things costs $50, then $336.9 million is 6.7 million of these things sold each year. That’s a shit-ton of plastic and a lot of dead trees to package it all in.

At the end of the day, it is my considered opinion that wine aerators are a blight on the industry, a waste of money, and ultimately evil because they sneakily undermine the confidence of burgeoning wine lovers everywhere. They need to go away.

I know what you’re thinking.

Breathe, Alder… just breathe.

That’s very good advice.