How to "Age" Your Wine 5 Years in 20 Seconds: Hyperdecanting

120 Comments


(Photo credit: Oandu)

Wine tends to attract a lot of snobs who use bad French to ruin things.

Done at the dinner table, a brutal technique called “hyperdecanting” will appall that muppet with the popped collar on his polo shirt. It will also make your wine delicious, and make you a hero to everyone who wants to punch him in his smug little face. [cue 0:24]

On a practical level, you can outgun most faux-sommeliers (see what I did there?) with a little brute force. To do this, you first need to understand a bit about aeration.

When in Rome

Generally speaking, letting your wine “breathe” makes it taste better. Just like in our gluten-free kitten pancakes (see pg. 147*), a little air goes a long way…

Letting wine “breathe” equals increasing the surface area of the wine exposed to air for a set period of time. In wine-speak, this “opens the bouquet” (releases aroma compounds) and “softens” the flavor. In simple terms, it usually makes it taste better. Though the mechanism is debated, it appears to reduce the cotton-mouth effects of tannins, which makes aeration perfectly suited to “big” red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux. In another context, tannins are what make your mouth feel puckered and chalky if you drink overbrewed black tea. Aeration may also minimize wine defects like mercaptins, not to be confused with midichlorians.

Enough with the details, Ferriss. How do I aerate?

We’ll look at four methods: swirling and swishing, decanting, using a Vinturi, and beating the sh*t out of it. I’ll explain how to use them first, and there is a demo video at the end.

Method 1: Swirling and Swishing

This is the standard tabletop move. To avoid making an ass of yourself: Hold the glass by the stem, keeping the glass base on the table, and move it in fast but small circles. Take a small sip, hold the wine in your mouth as you tilt your head forward, and suck in a thin stream of air, almost as if you’re gargling upside down. Swallow and make a mmm-like sound to indicate deep thought.

Slap yourself if you do this while your friends are drinking Coronas.

Method 2: Decanting

Decanting is, strictly speaking, transferring liquid from one container to another. The Romans pioneered the use of glass decanters, which they used to remove sediment, leaving the gunk in the original storage vessel.

Decanters with wide bases are now used to expose wine to air, often for 1–2 hours or more.

Method 3: The Vinturi and Wordplay

The Vinturi® wine aerator is a handheld plastic device that capitalizes on Bernoulli’s Principle. Mr. B’s rule dictates—in simple terms—that as you increase the speed of a fluid’s movement, you decrease its pressure. Decrease the pressure of wine and it becomes easier to infuse more air in less time.

If you pour wine from the bottle, through the Vinturi, and directly into a friend’s wineglass, you will hear the accelerated siphoning of air into the stream, which also has a nice party-trick effect. Bingo: Mr. Science–style aeration and a nice shortcut.

The difference is subtle, but it makes for less waiting and less cleanup than traditional decanting.

Method 4: Beat the Sh*t Out of It

This method is not subtle. It’s a scientifically well-founded middle finger pointed at people who give a wonderful beverage a bad name.

I owe a hat tip to the brilliant Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft, master French chef, and creator of the iconic, never-to-be-outdone, $600 (or $450 here) cooking encyclopedia, Modernist Cuisine.

If aeration is exposing more liquid surface area to air, how can we take this to its logical extreme?

Blend it into a fury, of course. Nathan has done this with vintage wine gifted to him by Spanish royalty, but I’d suggest a practice run on something from Trader Joe’s first. Here’s how I do it:

- Pour 1–2 glasses of the wine into a large mixing bowl or—my favorite—a large Bomex beaker. If you’re using the latter, 600 ml of wine is perfect for the next step; just leave plenty of room at the top (I fill to around 400 ml). Take a sip for a good sense of “before.”

- Lower an immersion blender, also called a “stick” blender, into the glass, then blend for 20–30 seconds. Tip your container (or tilt the blender best you can) to enhance the foaming effect. If you have a standing blender like a Vitamix, feel free to go nuts.

The wine should now have a nice heady froth on it, like a proper Guinness. Pour into a serving cup—I favor a 250-ml Bomex, which is exactly one-third of a standard bottle of wine—and enjoy. It should taste markedly different. And, ladies and gents, that is how you achieve 3 hours of decanting, sans fancy descriptors, in 20–30 seconds. Wink at your most offended guest and ask them if they arm wrestle.

Thank you, Mr. Myhrvold.

(*P.S. The gluten-free kitten pancakes are a joke.)

The above is one of hundreds of shortcuts from The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life, available here at 50-80% off before the holidays.

###

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120 comments on “How to "Age" Your Wine 5 Years in 20 Seconds: Hyperdecanting

  1. Tim-

    Great entry. Have you seen the wind wand? It is pretty amazing…..it doesn’t make any sense but the wine tastes markedly different after a swirl with that thing. It also makes that perfect gift for the guy or girl that has everything.

    -Rusty

  2. great trick, worked great! but I imagine purists would frown at this, as part of wine drinking is the ritual itself…

  3. My method is to pour a glass, cover the top with your hand or cork it, then shake it like you’re trying to make a bottle of pop explode for about 20 seconds. No blender or equipment needed.

    Another glass to test, then perhaps one more round of shaking. Works great. Every time.

  4. “tannins are what make your mouth feel puckered and chalky if you drink overbrewed black tea”

    I love brewing strong tea. Can I use the Vinturi to decant tea and get rid of the chalky aftertaste?

  5. Hey Tim
    I know you are a wine addict and a connoisseur, however … allow me to tell you some things about the next level – I’m by no means a connoisseur, just happened to find some thing out.
    Some wise man once said that good things take time to complete. A true work of art requires times, so does a plant or a child in order to grow to adulthood. There is natural flow to things, jumping over steps in order to get to end faster leads to predictable results. Try to force a butterfly to get out of it’s cocoon sooner and it will die. Force a children into adulthood and you will end up with a incomplete human being.
    This especially true with the wine.
    Let me tell a few things about wine. Thing is, wine is far more than mere fermented grape juice. It is a complex liquid; the best natural wines have been studied and it was found out they contain some 600 (!) different components, as opposed to 30 (or less in the case of falsified wines) for low quality ones. Wines are therefore more of a live being than a simple beverage. It grows in time almost as a child, absorbing the energy of its environment. People, location, sun, soil etc they all come together in creating a wine. This is why they say wines have personalities.
    True connoisseurs feel all these subtle energies that flow through the wine, as opposed to just taste or, in case of the majority the ‘liver ache/headache the morning after’ test.
    You can age the taste of the wine in 5 seconds …. but I wouldn’t be so sure about the rest.

    Final thoughts: this is meant as informative post. I admire you Tim for your work and your dedication … however, at the same time, I’d like you to understand there are some things are beyond efficiency, a whole world actually. A world that one cannot quantify but feel and live it. There’s no rush here, because things grow in their own time.

  6. Well Tim,

    Thank you for this video and the tips provided here. Personally I am a big fan of wine. I lived in Paris for 5 years where I took some wine-tasting lessons. I have also visited Bordeaux many times because my fiancé is from that amazing region.
    From all the above ways, I prefer the first one offe course: Method 1: Swirling and Swishing. I find is more original!

    I suppose you are going to open a good bottle to celebrate the new year!
    Enjoy :)

  7. Hey Tim,

    Just want to say “Thank You!”

    I received the Kindle Fire in the mail yesterday.

    Awesome prize.

    All the best,

    AT

  8. Hey Tim, I tried this with a simple pump milk frother and it was a very notable difference with way less cords and clean up. I’m no wine connoisseur but even I could tell a big difference with an inexpensive bottle of Cab.

    For others interested just search Stainless Steel Milk Frother on Amazon. It’s kinda like a french press and works great on wine!

  9. Is it possible that brutalising wine with a blender affects the molecular structure? I know this is the case with deriving vegetable juice from a blender as opposed to a conventional juicer.

  10. I tried this today with 2 glasses. 1 untouched and 1 “hyperdecanted”. I have no real knowledge of wines but it definately tasted better.

    TIP: I used a milk frother wich you can just stick in the glass and it sounds and looks a little less brutal.

    Search google for “aerolatte”

  11. Im a big fan of the book and the site but after reading through the comments I feel compelled to make an important clarification. This method might seem great on big red wines and I’m sure most people who have tried it out after reading this post have noticed a “difference” but the science behind wine making just doesnt support this aggressive method.

    Wine’s aromas come from aldehydes and esters which when exposed to oxygen will make the wine more smelly. When a bottle of wine is aggressively shaken or decanted however you are breaking up those compounds so violently that most will never reform again, thus making a wine taste much different and probably worse, NOT better. This effect is commonly known as bottle shock. Wine is all about chemistry and decanting wine is about gently exposing the wine to oxygen, not pummeling the shit out of it.

    Tannin molecules on the other hand can be broken up through swirling, decanting and using a vinturi but this is only advisable on wines that can “take it” like the big cabs etc. You can be a little more aggressive here but using a blender on a great bottle of wine is going to screw with the flavor more than break up those pesky tannin. By the way, dont like tannic reds? Drink them with a steak or cheese and see what that does to them.

    A $10 wine from trader joes is not going to show much difference no matter what method you use because those wines aren’t made with any kind of body to show any difference. They are meant to be approachable upon release (which is the reason why they are popular). By the same token a lighter bodied red wine would actually taste worse after vigorous decanting as you’d be breaking up the flavor compounds in order to break up the tannin which isn’t there.

    There are a lot of gimmicks out there that are meant to help people understand wine better but are mostly frivolous and I hate to think of the idea of “hyperdecanting” catching on as the tried and true methods are way
    better.

    Here’s your best bet.

    $10 wine from TJs? Just drink it.
    Nice young powerful wine? Decant it in a regular decanter. Or just wait a while before opening it.
    Old wine? Be careful decanting at all because it’s already done the process naturally.

  12. Great article Tim!

    Another suggestion I would add is if you only are planning on having one glass you could use a battery operated milk frother (eg: aerolatte) to do a similar job on a smaller scale.

  13. Tim! We use a great “hyper-decanting tool” called Wine Swizzler that aerates your wine – in your glass! (as much or as little as you want, at the touch of a button)

    It’s not as messy as our old method of pouring a bottle in the blender and foaming it up to the ceiling, and it works just as well, if not better! I think you’d love it, and it’s a great travel size to take along in case of a wine-aerating emergency, wherever you are.

  14. Wow Tim. I don’t often do this (that is go to a blog just to bash it) but I felt obligated here. Your theory on hyper decanting is just absurd. It’s late where I am and I can’t possibly tell you all the ways that you are misleading the wine-drinking public with your article and video here but I would love to talk with you about it sometime. To each his own but please take the time to educate yourself on the content before attempting to off hand tell others about “better” and “quicker” ways of doing things. I honestly feel sorry for you. Keep up with the blog here but I must admit that articles like this are on my top ten list of things wrong with the wine world.

  15. Loved the tip on wine hyperdecanting and video. Quite unconventional and I’m sure would make a lot of ‘wine snobs’ frown. I’ll try this for sure!

    Also, being French, I feel that i must say this: make sure to hold the glass from the very bottom. Tradition has it that it will prevent from the smell of your hands to affect the taste of your wine…(granted this is an old tradition when hands weren’t particularly clean but still…)

    Best
    Bruno

  16. Chris,
    Tim got this idea from the book “Modernist Cuisine”. Perhaps if you see who’s behind that book and their standing both as scientist, chef and wine enthusiast you might not be so quick to dismiss the idea. And give it ago – it does actually work.
    Adam

  17. Hey Tim!
    Not sure if this has been posted yet but my girlfriend and I tried the “blender method” with a cheap boxed wine we were trying to make drinkable and used one of our Blender Bottle Protein Shakers to aerate the wine. Worked like a charm! We tested it on a number of other “good” wines versus our Vinturi units and the results were pretty stellar. There doesn’t seem to be a plastic taste left from the bottle…or maybe our pallets are not as refined as some.

  18. Thanks for the tip tim! I used your knowledge and adapted my own aeration method.. a $2 battery powered milk frother from ikea! works fantastically and no cleaning or power point required ;)

  19. I thought you would put something into the bottle of wine to age it 20 years… Lol! I get it.. Thanks for that technique.. I’d better try it that on our upcoming sales rally we’ll sure have a cocktail party then.. Thanks very much!

  20. I’ve got another one for you Tim that’s really cool, (I mean cold actually) and makes wine snobs turn over in their graves.
    Take that unused opened bottle of wine that you can’t drink right now, put it in a plastic water bottle, no more than 2/3 full, (for expansion),and freeze the shit out of it. Pull it out of the freezer in two or three months, thaw and drink.
    It will still taste great. Check it out!

  21. Hi Tim!

    I thought you might like this. It’s a slick combination of design, photography and foodie arts > http://ht.ly/8K7aC

    Not my site. Just one I peruse from time to time.

    And thank you SO MUCH for the pic with my (now your) eggcups! I was over the moon.

    Un abrazo fuerte,
    Camila.

  22. Some sense, more nonsense, and two critical omissions.

    First, the last.

    It doesn’t much matter what you do with garbage wine, but treat even half-decent reds gently – ordinary old rosés are beyond hope, and most whites fairly robust. And take pains to get the temperature right – a circlet wine thermometer should be your first accessory. Cool under a damp tea-towel or warm in your house. And be warned, this can take hours.

    Always decant reds, even junk, down to the last mouthful which, joy of joys, you taste. Usually a contaminated wine stinks but, once in a blue moon, only the taste is affected. Don’t worry about being able to detect this, if you stumble on one you won’t be spitting it out just to stay sober. Open the bottle half an hour before drinking, and pour slowly into a container, a proper decanter is best but a jug will do provided it’s impeccably clean. Stop when there’s just a little left, and taste it – drink it if there’s no sediment – to make sure there hasn’t been contamination. In a restaurant, pour reds into your glasses as soon as you can, up to the point of maximum diameter for classic tulips and, if need be, warm them in your hands – or, if too hot, send the bottle back to be cooled or even, in emergency, add an ice-cube.

  23. Hi Tim,

    Nice methods ;)

    However, the last one “mixing” method may be not as good for wine as you think. High speed mixing will (probably) kill most of the wine enzymes and antioxidants… which is bad thing for us. If that will happen wine will lose it’s health giving “power” :)

    I’m not hundred percent sure about that but if fresh vegetable juices are losing their best stuff by fast mixing I think that wine may be subjected to the same effect.

    Have a great day!

  24. Another thing to remember is temperature — too-warm wine (red/white) tastes bad. I don’t hesitate to fish an ice-cube or two from my water glass into my wine glass. Dilution is a minor sin compared to too warm.

  25. Tried different aerating methods to improve quality of a not soo good Bordeaux and after the fith glass I couldn’t make find any differences anymore.
    Sure, the extreme method with the mixer helped in getting more air in and develop taste, but I prefer the slow decanting (for me wine is not only the taste and smell, but also the atmosphere).
    Anyway, very interesting article and I will try the mixer-method again when having a party.

  26. Aerating has its place, but it doesn’t really mimic aging. All you’re doing is volatilizing fruit aromas. Shaking the crap out of something isn’t going to, say, cause autolysis, or any number of the other reactions that happen as wine is exposed to oxygen slowly. Bringing those fruit aromas up to the surface in young reds will soften the effect of tannin, yes. But what will really soften tannin is time. The reason for decanting older wines is to pour them off their sediment, and sediment is, basically, bits of fruit skin, stem, seed, and other teensy solids that have fallen out of solution. These bits are what creates the tannic sensation. When they’re stuck at the bottom of the bottle, they can’t make you feel like your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth.

    The other thing that shaking wine can do, is get out CO2. Many whites, and an increasing number of reds (Mollydooker comes to mind – they recommend that you do the “Mollydooker Shake” on their wines if you drink them soon after release. Beaux Freres, the culty Pinot project from Parker’s brother in law is another example.) are bottled with a big slug of CO2 to preserve the wine as an alternative to sulfuring.

    Tim’s advice to taste before you aerate and/or agitate is spot on. Aerating will always change a wine, but it might not always change it in a way you’ll like.

    Also, please don’t take my mention of Mollydooker as an endorsement. Wines like those make me want to hide in a corner the fetal position, clutching a bottle of Saumur Blanc or Cru Beaujolais as some sort of talisman against the rising tide of nasty, overoaked, over-extracted crap a Parkerized wine world has brought forth.

  27. HI, I am interested in selling a cookie that I make to local places and then turning it nation wide once its a proven market. My question is how can I make these out of my home and sell them? I was told I need a commercial kitchen to cook out of. Is there any way around this? Thank you!

    • Only way around it is as far as I know is to approach an existing restaurant kitchen or bakery that has passed health inspection and to rent their premises out of their business hours. Once you have a market that can cover your expenses you can decide whether to start your own commercial kitchen.

  28. Hi im sorry, but what advantage has blending over just putting it in a sealable container and shaking it? Wouldn’t that work as well?

  29. Hey Tim, read both 4hww and (most of) 4hbody and absolutely love em both, have recommended them to all my like-minded friends and associates.

    Anyways, I’ve been following your PAGG stack for a cutting cycle and have loved it so far. Was recently at a health food store to replenish my stocks of A and G when the sales associate suggested a new product called PGx. Their website ( http://www.pgx.com/ca/en/ ) indicates numerous studies showing its efficacy for reducing the glycemic index of foods as well as insulin response.

    Apparently its a special fibre complex that works synergisticly to slow down digestion and therefore the spike. Was really hoping you could look into it, may want to add it to future revisions of 4hbody. No I do not work for this company or anything, but if you do look into it please shoot me back an e-mail cause I’d love to hear your take. Thanks again, appreciate the dramatic change your books have made in my life bro. Love and luck buddy!

    P.S. I have started taking PGx, so when I finish the bottle I’ll get back with results, hopefully get a blood-glucose monitor and run some tests as well. THANKS!

  30. Use a Aerolatte Milk Frother, from 0,99 (even IKEA sells those). Not so “brute-force”ful… but with the same astonishing effect, also you can use it which half the wine in the desired glass and fill up afterwards.

    Steve

  31. Tim,
    This is completely outrageous and unexpected. I can’t wait to try it, especially since I never buy a bottle of wine that costs more than $10. I wonder is this is wasted on my untrained palate. Still I love the idea of using my blender the next time we have guests for dinner.

  32. Hi Tim,

    decanting is also about removing the solid precipitate from the wine… (and leaving it at the bottom of the decanter, hence its name)… your method ruins this effort :)

  33. Hey Tim I took notice of what you were saying about the oversteeped tea flavor and I got the idea to “hyperdecant” my tea!

    With some herbal blends it is hard to tell how long to steep due to the all the different ingredients, so I usually just deal with some bitterness. But today I put it in the blender for 20 seconds and voila! I have tea that foams like beer and tastes great!

    Cameron

  34. We had a wine tasting for about 10 people and tried the wines 3 ways:
    1. Straight out of the bottle
    2. Through the Venturi Wine Aerator
    3. Beat the S*** out of it.
    They were all red wines, Sirah & Zin.

    The hands down consensus was that the Venturi did the best job of mellowing the wine.

    Nick