In this age of communal Attention Deficit Disorder Syndrome a whole cosmetic industry has grown up around wine – not to make the fermented grape appear younger, but to make it taste older, writes DWWA judge Tony Aspler, who isn't having any of it.

It’s an industry that wants to botox away a wine’s bodily flaws with oak treatment or other dubious implants.

As a wine writer I get deluged with gadgets and gizmos that purport to age wine faster and smooth out its tannins.

My kitchen drawer is full of magnets the size of hockey pucks, funnels that flow like watering cans, plastic spirals like miniature water slides and pouring implements that spew wine in dizzying circles. All of them are engineered to introduce air that will unlock the wine’s bouquet and flavour. And these are just the low-tech contraptions.

If you want to get fancy you can spend the price of a Second Growth claret on a sort of electronic push-up bra that uses electro-magnetic and acoustic waves to heighten a wine’s pH, thereby reducing its acidity.

A mild application takes 15 minutes; for a stubborn wine that needs punishing, an hour. You could even torture the wine in front of your dinner party guests.

Or you could invest $129 in the Sonic Decanter that will give your adolescent wine a frontal lobotomy. This piece of equipment, according to online publication Gizmag, uses ‘high frequency sound waves to break down preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide, transform the molecular and chemical structure of wine, and accelerate the aging process’.

There is also a product called the Oak Bottle. And it’s just that, a bottle made of oak. You fill it with water for 24 hours, empty the water, then pour in an inexpensive wine and leave it for 48 to 72 hours to ‘impart an authentic oak flavour’.

My pal and fellow wine scribe, Oz Clarke, said of it, ‘As I take my first sniff, I immediately get a delicious aroma of vanilla. My spirits rise, but after the first sip they crash. It’s wine — with a hint of furniture polish.’

Call me an oenological Luddite but I don’t want to force my wine to grow up, so I don’t use any of these appliances.

If I want my wine to breathe, the tumbling effect of pouring will do the trick and if you feel that a young wine needs a lot of aeration, double decant. That is, pour your wine into a decanter or large jug, rinse out the bottle to remove any sediment and, using a clean funnel, pour the wine back into the bottle.

Let wine enjoy its youth and watch over it with patience. Repeat this mantra after me: ‘Wine improves with age and I will improve with wine.’

Do you agree? Let us know either below tweet us @Decanter.

Tony Aspler is a Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) judge and was regional chair for Canada at DWWA 2015.

  • Dale Huffman

    I received a Sonic Decanter December, 2015 as a Christmas present from my brother who is an investor. I used it less than a half-dozen times and then it stopped working. I would plug it in, press the button, and nothing happened except for the timer counting down. There wasn’t the “buzzing sound” that indicated to me that it was working. I’m a pretty good guy so thought that it was disappointing that it stopped working (and so soon); however, I’ll just reach out to customer service and I’m sure that they’ll send me a replacement pronto! I was wrong. There are no phone numbers in the packaging of the product. I visited their website at and clicked on the Support tab—nothing there except instructions. I looked for a customer service number or email—strike 2. I then checked the FAQ section and was able to locate the email address—no response (4 months ago)—strike 3. I then thought I’d use social media so found their Facebook page where I posted a comment letting them know my experience—again no response. Disappointing to me. I thought the product worked and don’t want to tell my brother that his gift is a $250 door stop right now. If you get one hope you have better luck than I.

  • Tim Tobish

    I have a better idea.

    Have a good storage solution, and wait.

  • Evan Byrne

    Here’s a letter I sent recently to The World of Fine Wine about another gadget – Coravin:

    As with screwcaps when they appeared, and CDs many years ago (‘Perfect Sound Forever’) so with Coravin it appears: it’s the perfect preservation device. Since I have not really felt the need to buy one I would certainly take issue with Jamie Goode’s assertion that it falls into the category of ‘essential accessories’. Though I would like to say that I have nothing against it per se.

    A huge factor in the rise of Coravin has doubtless been its suitability for wine bars and restaurants for by-the-glass pours. Living here in Alba, we have noticed a number of establishments offering wines by the glass that they would not otherwise offer. This is great news for wine-lovers, wine bars and producers alike. But Jamie Goode’s article on Coravin, which, intentional or otherwise, reads worryingly like an advertorial, seems to find no possible downside with the device (if you don’t count exploding bottles, which appear to have been shown to be at fault, rather than the machine itself). I admit that I have not seen a Coravin in action, so it may be more cunning than I realise, but what happens when I want to try a Côte-Rôtie, and the next customer wants to try the Clos Ste-Hune? I am sure that they neither want a rosé, nor water in their wine. Of course, one for white and one for red is easy to do, but then the cost goes up. Still, these are small matters.

    More important is the issue, never mentioned in the article, of alternative closures.
    Jamie talks about preservation devices or techniques (bunging the cork back in the bottle can’t really be considered a device…) and he asserts that they all have their shortcomings, causing the reader to at least infer that Coravin doesn’t. Having spent AU$2,100 on 6 bottles of Penfolds Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, the purchaser might indeed like to check its progress with a Coravin (why not just open and drink the bottle…?). But under screwcap, they can’t. Want to see how your 2009 Hill of Grace (AU$ 595 on the Henschke website) is doing? You can’t with Coravin – glass stopper, you see. Given that in the fullness of time,
    perhaps natural cork itself will be the ‘alternative’ closure, I wonder if Coravin is working on range-expanding models that will allow the same tasting experience with wines sealed with screwcaps, glass stoppers, crown caps and so on. (If not, and the work begins now, I want a commission on sales…!)

    Finally, there is the issue of actually tasting or drinking wine. Jamie Goode is a man with far more knowledge of wine science, and probably far more knowledge of wine making and tasting than I will ever have. However, given that he is very happy to quote ‘anecdotal reports and personal experience’ in his article then anecdotal reports and personal experience are good enough for me, too.

    He mentions that air contact ‘degrades’ the wine (in which case, we should all have inert gas only in our glasses…) and that ‘older fine wines arequite fragile’. Whilst no-doubt true from a chemist’s perspective, my personal experience is precisely the opposite of this – we have opened many bottles over the years which we have decanted one day (and always tasted when we decanted them) and drunk the following day. We have never had a wine that tasted worse the following day and (I realise that this is anecdotal) I would guess that 90%+ have been better. In the past couple of months we have had a 1990 Madiran and a 1983 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley that were both showing their age when opened and tasted much fresher the following day. I once had a 12 year old Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc that tasted maderised when opened. 3 days in the fridge on ullage and it was full of life, zest, stone fruits, a little spice – far, far fresher than before
    it was degraded through air contact.

    As far as Coravin is concerned, it was not something I had really thought about but recently Valerie, my astute wife, made the point that, if we had tried these wines using a Coravin, then they would not have had the aeration that you get with decanting. Hence, even if we had drunk these wines over several days or weeks, we would never have experienced them in their fresher, albeit ‘degraded’ state.

    I know that it is not the fashion to say so, but I would urge anyone who actually wants to drink and enjoy their fine wines – and especially those with some bottle age – to give them some air, preferably overnight.

    And above all, of course, to drink the wine in company – this should ensure that all of the wine can be drunk in one sitting. A bottle among 4 people doesnot go far, after all, unless you are pretty stingy, and as Clifton Fadiman said, “A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover.”


  • johnfarrin

    At the risk of being known as an intransigent old fart forever more I heartily concur. No one wants to wait for ANYTHING anymore. Patience has been taken off the virtues list. Wait? Hell no! I deserve it now! I fear they’ll never know the beauty oof a wine’s natural evolution

  • Jason Lewis

    While I abhor this “new fangled technology” that purports to age wine years in mere minutes — and none work that I’ve tried, either — I fear that these devices are here to stay. Over my 40+ years in the wine trade, I’ve seen fewer and fewer people here in the States buying wine to cellar, and more and more seeking the instant gratification of having a great wine tonight. Back in the 1970s or early ’80s, there was some report that concluded (IIRC) 96% of all wine purchased in the US was consumed within seven days. From what I’ve seen, it’s only gotten worse. People are astounded when they discover that a) I have any sort of a wine cellar at all (more than, say, 6 bottles stored on a rack in my kitchen), and b) by the size of it (which, at roughly 60 cases, is down from its high of approx. 100). They don’t understand why I don’t own any of these “wonderful” gadgets . . . until I open a 10-, 15-, or 20- year old bottle of wine. Even then, either the proverbial light bulb goes on, or it doesn’t — but either way, it may not translate to starting a cellar of their own. So as much as I agree with you, Tony (long time, no see, by the way), I fear current and future consumers will continue to invest in magnets, ultrasound, microwaves, and more — rather than just investing in a cellar.

  • I have tested a variety of devices intended to age or improve your wine. In my double blind controlled trials they have not worked as advertised That is only one, and I have not tested them all, but have not been impressed with the ones I did. Of course, I haven’t had much luck with decanting either