Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Centellino is a bottle-top wine aerator made in Italy that, like other wine aerators we've reviewed, attempts to improve the aromatics and flavor experience of wine instantaneously. It is imported by Fiorino Italian Imports. Here's a video showing the product in action:
The Centellino takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have the hang of it, it's pretty straightforward. I think guests who are wine enthusiasts would likely be interested in playing with it- those that aren't might find it a distraction. Like other bottle-top devices you tend to attach it to the bottle and leave it there until you're done drinking the bottle so if you tend to have multiple bottles open you'd probably want to have multiple Centellinos (else you'll be jockeying the device in and out of bottles). I like its one-handed operation.
I like how it effectively measures a 5 ounce pour. If you're trying to limit your consumption to 1 or 2 glasses a night and you're pouring into oversized Bordeaux glasses it's easy to get carried away. That said, it takes a little while to pour each glass and if you're in the mood to "just drink the stuff" the theatrics might be unappreciated, as they would with any wine aerator.
The product is made of glass which I consider a strength and a weakness. There's no chance of the wine picking up plastic flavors or aromas via contact but it's more breakable than if it were made of plastic.
When cleaning the device, it's a little hard to get inside the Centellino so without a tool you're only able to rinse it with hot water. Over the last few months that I've been experimenting with it, I didn't notice any wine build-up so presumably the glass resists wine stains.Water tended to collect in the device as it sat and dried which gave me concern that musty aromas might develop over time if I didn't shake all the water out. That said, I didn't notice any problematic effects from small amounts of water remaining in the device after cleaning.
The box it comes in is made of non-water-resistant cardboard and foam. Some competing devices have storage pouches/containers that seem more water-friendly so keep that in mind as you're shopping for devices.
Blind Tasting Results
I'm a big believer in blind tasting when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of wine aerators. For each of these tastings, I poured 2 glasses- one through the Centellino and the other directly from the bottle. I then asked my wife to flip a coin and if it was heads switch the glasses, tails don't switch the glasses. Either way I asked her to move the glasses around so I couldn't tell or hear whether the glasses were switched.
I first tried the Centellino with a 2007 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne. For me, the wine was rather closed-nosed and a bit harsh on the finish at this point in time- things I thought he device might help with. I thought the glass that went through the Centellino was slightly rounder and fuller on the palate, but the glass that did not go through the Centellino was slightly more aromatic. A tie.
I then followed up with a 2004 Orlando Abrigo Barbaresco. I've been on a huge Barbaresco kick lately and again wanting to stay in Italy (to test this Italian-made device) I thought this would be a good test. Unfortunately, this particular bottle lacked elegance and was quite sediment-laden. Pouring it through the Centellino reminded me that devices like this tend to churn the wine and aren't really strong at removing larger particles from ending up in your glass. At any rate, I thought the glass that did not go through the Centellino was actually a little better. It was slightly more aromatic and felt rounder in the mouth. A slight edge to the non-aerated glass.
- Innovative, upscale Italian design has a certain sophistication to it
- It's made of glass so no concerns about plastic contamination of your wine
- Two-step pouring ensures uniform 5-ounce pour
- Cleaning and storage of the device is a little more difficult than competing devices
- Fared poorly in my blind tasting experiments
While I can appreciate the Centellino's artistic design, my blind tastings haven't shown a consistent meaningful improvement to the aromatics nor mouth-feel of the wines I tested it with. I'll update this piece if I see better results in future blind tastings.
If you're in the market for a wine aerator you might find this 7-way blind tasting comparison useful.
Sample for review.
Question of the Day: What do you think of the Centellino?