Take the Vinturi Challenge: First up Barolo!

Posted on March 5, 2013

Vinturi ChallengeI remember the day that a Vinturi was given to me.  It was the answer to decanting.  No longer did we have to wait half an hour before the wine was drinkable.  All I had to do was pour the wine through this sleek-looking aerator and…Voila!  The wine was ready.  I am always a fan of cool wine gimmicks and I think it is neat to see people get creative with wine.  Some gimmicks work and others are just…well gimmicky.

About 7 years ago, my first Vinturi was stolen from the floor of the restaurant the first week I had it out.  I was going to try it with some of my regulars to see if the Vinturi really worked.  I guess the word was out, that sleek plastic rocket capsule-looking aerator was a hot commodity.   I remember trying it with an Argentinian Malbec and it seemed to soften the wine.  I also remember trying it with a Barbaresco and noticed that the tannins were much more milder.  What I didn’t do was try the wines side by side with the Vinturi, a decanter and straight from the bottle.

A few years ago, my mom thought that it would be a nice gift for my birthday and bought me a Vinturi along with a subscription to a wine club.  (Very cool gift!)  However, by this time I’ve started to become more skeptical about the Vinturi.  I have eyed it as it sits on my wine cabinet staring right back at me.  I can hear it say, “give me a chance Maurice, try me out.”  I read an article not too long ago about Mike Madrigal of Bar Boulud and several other New York sommeliers put it to the challenge.  So I thought why not do  the same thing.

I turned to my San Diego based tasting group, made up of some of the top wine professionals in the county, to get this challenge under way.  The way it works is all tastings are blind.  I pour one bottle of wine into three glasses.

  • One glass will have wine from that bottle which has been decanted 1/2 hour before tasting.
  • Another glass will the same wine poured into directly from the bottle just before tasting.
  • And the third glass will have the wine poured through the Vinturi just before tasting.

The judges will taste the wines and rate them.

  • Aromas: which glass of wine is more aromatic?  Does one show more fruit aromas? Does one show more floral or earth aromas?
  • Palate:  Which glass has more fruit on the palate?
  • Alcohol:  Does the alcohol intensity vary from glass to glass?
  • Tannin:  Does the tannin level vary from glass to glass?
  • Acidity:  Does the acidity vary from glass to glass?
  • Finish:  Does the finish vary from glass to glass?
  • Finale:  Which glass did the judge prefer?

The Vinturi Challenge really is to see what effect the Vinturi, the decanter and the bottle have on wine.  There is no doubt about it, the wines will taste differently.  My hypothesis is that although the wines might vary from glass to glass so will the judges choices for the best wine.  Different styles of wine will react in different ways.  In the end it will come to the person’s preference.  What I hope to do is to give the reader a better understanding of which wines will benefit from the Vinturi based on the readers preference of wine style.  I believe some people might like more fruity  wines while others will care for the higher acidic wines.  The Vinturi might change a wine and either improve it or ruin it for your particular taste.

So let’s get started!  The Vinturi Challenge is officially under way!


Barolo!  Villadoria Barolo

The first wine we through into the Challenge was a younger Barolo.

Villadoria 2007 Barolo

Personal taste really comes into play.  This is a younger Barolo made a bit more approachable in anew world style.  It is not an intense tannic young Barolo, but fairly fleshy and ready to drink.

  • Two judges preferred it straight from the bottle.  The aromas were intact and the tannins were what one would expect from a younger Barolo.  Straight from the bottle the consensus was that it was even more expressive with nuances of flowers and fruit.
  • Only one judge preferred the Vinturi.  They said it was more powerful.  However, the other judges agreed that  it was lacking aromas and that what seemed more powerful was really a wine closed off of fruit. The tannins were softer, but something was lost.
  • Three judges preferred from the decanter.  The wine was more aromatic and softer on the palate.  The fruit was intact and floral aromas along with earthy aromas carried to the palate.  the tannins were present but smooth.


All in all, the wine was showing excellently from both the bottle and decanter.  So if you want more tannin and  get a Barolo like character, drink this new world style Barolo from the bottle.  If you prefer the softer style without losing the fantastic aromas and nuances that Barolo has use the Decanter.  Mauricescru prefers the Decanter.



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