I experience and experiment across a broad wine spectrum, and I like to dedicate a now-and-then column to the results. For instance, I recently received two Vinturi Aerators, one for whites, the other for reds, and was asked to put them through their paces. These champagne-flute shaped glass vessels are designed to expand the flavor and aromatic dimensions of wine as it is poured through them and "draws in and mixes the proper amount of air for the right amount of time, allowing your wine to breathe instantly."
Now, I don't work with highly extracted wines, so I assumed that the changes would be more subtle. I chose two youthful bottlings, the Joel Gott 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($17.25, 13.9percent alcohol) and the 2011 Ventana Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc ($13,95, 14.2percent alcohol) to see if the Vinturi could coax a hint of maturity out of them. And, the wines were paired with salmon and steak to measure the impact on food compatibility.
The Sauvignon Blanc was rather pretty and subtle right out of the bottle and produced a bright and positive combo with both salmon and steak. After its Vinturi treatment it became a hint more creamy with a bit more length to the finish. There was a softer interplay and a slightly longer fish and wine finish as well. It perked up even more with the steak, more fluid with pretty notes.
The Cabernet texture was fairly silky with light hints of astringency that brought the salmon and Cab finish down a notch but held its own with the beef. All became noticeably softer and slightly richer with the aerator application and the salmon combo picked up in intensity. I placed the partial bottle of Joel Gott on the counter and took a couple of sips the next day, concluding that the overnight aeration of the open bottle bore some resemblance to the previous night's Vinturi modification. I dare say I am going to continue my investigation as I am convinced that the food and wine compatibility was at least slightly enhanced by the aerators and the impact would likely be even greater for more extracted and complex wines.
And it is not unusual for me to put two very different wines to the same pairing test, as was the case when both the 14 Hands Hot to Trot Washington State White Blend 2010 ($12.50, 13.0percent alcohol, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris) and Moss Roxx Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2009 ($22.95, 14.5percent alcohol, average vine age 104 plus years) mingled nicely with a lemon-marinated fried chicken breast and proved delightful with a blue cheese, tomato, onion and carrot salad, artichokes and mayo, and last night's ground turkey and bean chili. That's what I call versatility. Oh, and the Hot to Trot furthered its pairing credentials the following night when adding to the enjoyment of pan-fried sausages, polenta with a cream sauce and another saucy take on an artichoke heart. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the '09 earned a thumbs-up with a flavorful chicken Caesar salad (rich combo), clams in linguini, a mild pesto, basil, garlic oil pasta and even greater accolades with pan-fried lamb and salmon. How food-friendly can you get?