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The undying obsession with letting wine “breathe” has moved beyond dedicated gadgets to recruit everything from milk frothers to Vitamixes.

“Sommeliers, don't kill me,” says one TikToker before pouring some red wine and plopping a handheld milk frother right into the glass. “You don’t need an aerator.” It's one of many recent videos employing “hacks” to advance the wine aeration frontier, whether its throwing pinot noir in a Nutribullet or harnessing the mystical, purifying powers of crystals in a specially made decanter.

Of course, people have been decanting their wines for centuries, historically to clarify aged wine from its naturally occurring sediments. When it comes to younger wines, aeration can help show off their aromatic qualities, or let the wine “breathe.” Some aeration apparatuses have also been instrumental to the grandeur of fine dining. To capture that ritual at home, the wine world has been captivated by different tools throughout the years that have actually made everything from corkscrews to carafes more complicated and ostentatious than they need to be. (They’ve mostly succeeded at “projecting nouveau riche insecurity.”)

@annamaegroves How to aerate wine if you don’t have an aerator or decanter :) #sommelier #wine #winetips #cabernetsauvignon #cabernet ♬ original sound - annamaegroves

It all started with the decanter 2.0. At some point the glass blowers of Kufstein went beast mode with theirs, producing exotic “double decanters” shaped in the forms of serpents, escargot and even the Ayam, a rare breed of Indonesian hen. The wine world largely moved on to compact and less gaudy carafes that more gradually aerated the wine and were more serviceable for pouring back into the bottle. Meanwhile the proverbial cool wine kids of Paris and beyond adopted a cheekier vessel: the 1-liter Pyrex Erlenmeyer flask. 

On a parallel track was the demand for convenient, by-the-glass aeration. Founded in 2006 and popular by the 2010s, the Vinturi, a glorified funnel employing Bernoulli’s principle, promised instant wine aeration. It was deemed mostly superfluous by experts, though it does possess an uncanny ability to produce ASMR.

The grail of yuppie wine tech, though, remains the Coravin, an elaborate anti-aeration device that fused biomedical tech with the look and feel of a Glock pistol, allowing drinkers a taste without ever needing to uncork the bottle. The Coravin could apparently “preserve wines for months or years.” These are bold claims: In practice, maintaining a perfect seal with no degradation of the wine has proven challenging. (Coravin Sparkling®, meanwhile, flipped the script—instead of protecting wine from oxygen, the tool recharges a bottle with more carbon dioxide to replace what inevitably gets lost in an open bottle of sparkling wine.)

This brings us to today, where everyone—not just the wine enthusiasts—are taking aeration into their own hands. Now that you can aerate with a handheld milk frother, never before has wine aeration been so accessible, for bottom dollar, in dozens of colorways, delivered overnight and just begging to produce frothed wine TikTok content. Other kitchen staples share the spotlight, like the Vitamix, in which “you can age your wine 5 years in 10 seconds,” according to Connor Roy.

The wine aeration industrial complex is, at least in part, a symptom of early-aughts drinkers’ ceaseless desire for “smoothness.” Thanks to global warming’s impact on temperate growing regions, and globe-trotting wine consultants deploying the latest methods for wine, more and more drinkers of the 2000s got a taste of “smooth” wines—characterized by jammy, unstructured fruit, without much minerality, often confected with oak. They proved irresistible. 

If you couldn’t get a smooth wine straight from the bottle, wine aeration, it went, could take your drinking experience to heightened levels of smoothness. Throw a Parker wine into a decanter, and the rapid exposure to air can freshen its fruit, integrate its more cloying oak aromas, and to a limited degree, soften its tannins. Cue the Brookstone catalog and advertisements in Wine Spectator, which rose to meet this new demand. Conspicuous consumption of wine has always been a status symbol, but now there was an expanding arsenal of gear to flex your investment in the lifestyle.

About two decades later, social media is taking an opposite tack. Rather than the latest expensive gadget, we are inundated with “hacks” for seemingly all aspects of our lives to optimize, maximize and unlock new levels of experience, and wine is not immune to this impulse. The promise of elevating a cheap grocery store wine is alluring. But as TikTok implores, you don’t need a $300 tool to unlock your wine's potential—just head to your kitchen.

In actuality, once you have committed to opening and serving a bottle, the wine professionals’ consensus is clear: Limited air exposure (simply an uncorked bottle or a compact decanter) for a longer time is preferred over other DIY methods. Aeration shortcuts offer a low-resolution snapshot of a wine that is otherwise not ready to drink. But if you milk froth your wine, it’s true that it will be noticeably different, which to some feels like hacking the system. As one TikToker puts it, blitzing your wine in the blender turns it “into the most expensive tasting freshest wine EVER. It almost tastes like water.”

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Saman Hosseini is an architectural designer, food and wine commentator under the handle @thebaguettehunter and a wine and spirits buyer at Domestique, a natural wine shop in Washington, D.C.