vSpin wine aeration system
To decant or not to decant? A First World conundrum, for sure, but one that most wine aficionados are faced with a some point or other. For older fully mature wines, my personal preference is not to bother. Yes, the common practice would be to decant in order to ensure the wine is served clear and sediment free. However, exposing a delicate, well-aged wine to the amount of aeration generated in pouring it from bottle into decanter could be enough to knock the remaining life out of it. It’s less risky to stand the bottle upright over night and pour carefully right into serving glasses.
I find decanting is more useful when you have to serve a young wine – one that could likely benefit from more bottle aging. In this case, aeration is the goal, but it can be a challenge to expose the wine to the right amount of air (in a way, I should add, that doesn’t involve a lot of sloshing and possible spillage). The vSpin wine aeration system offers and elegant, practical, and effective way to open up closed young wines.
The unit consists of an elegant Spiegelau decanter with an enclosed magnetic (I assume) gizmo in the base. Into the decanter is placed a magnetic spinner (which looks kinda like a large vitamin pill) followed by the contents of a standard bottle of wine. The decanter is then placed on a rechargeable electronic base that contains both a timer and a speed setting. When the unit is switched on, the spinner in the bottom of the decanter starts, well, spinning. The effect is to create a gentle vortex where wine and air are quietly combined.
For the first test run I used a 2012 Scacciadiavol Montefalco Rosso. A blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino grapes, this style of wine typically has a fair acidic/tanninc backbone (though a bit of aged had no doubt tamed this a bit). Black cherry, leather, earth, and anise on the nose, it did show some rather aggressive acid and some dusty tannins. The cherry-tinged fruit was somewhat buried.
I decided to give the wine three minutes on the higher of the two spin settings. I used a pair of identical glasses, one for the original wine and one for the aerated version. When the timer ran down I tried both wines side-by-side. There was indeed a difference, though a subtle one; the overall aggressiveness of the wine was tempered somewhat, and the fruit seemed a bit more up front. I decided to give the wine another five minutes at a lower power setting. The resulting wine was definitely softer and rounder, with more complex fruit and a softer mouthfeel.
A couple days later I decided to repeat the experiment, this time with a 2014 Castello di Neive Barbaresco. Some delicate aromas of cedar, tar, violet, cherry, and almond lead to restrained black fruit flavours lurking amongst the predominant acid/tannin veneer. Five minutes of vSpin, power level two, certainly brought the fruit out, along with more complexity and better overall harmony. Feeling a bit cocky at this point, I gave the wine another ten minutes still on power setting two. A little air can be a good thing, but this doesn’t mean a lot of air is necessarily a better thing. In fact, I ended up giving the wine an air overdose. The aroma seemed to disappear, along with the fruit, leaving a wine that that still showed a bit of tannin and acidity, but very little else. I actually poured it down the drain (something I hardly ever do).
So, conclusion? The vSpin offers a unique and effective method of softening up tight young wines – just be careful with the time and speed. You can always add a bit more aeration if necessary, but there is a point of no return if you overdo it.