Ask Sid: Letting wine breathe?

January 14th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

What's the best way to let wine breathe?
By Daryn Nakhuda (originally posted to Flickr as Delicious Cabernet) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: Any new tips on letting a wine breathe?

Answer: Still just to open the bottle and expose the wine to air. However, not much surface area is aerated and exposed to oxygen unless you pour it into a glass or better still a decanter. Seems to becoming more important than ever recently with more reductive wines out there and wines spending longer periods under screw cap closures. Many of these wines definitely need breathing to open up and show their best as of course do most young tannic reds. A key question is for how long. Best to experiment. Lots of new tools on the market to help you speed the process up. I just received a gift I am playing with called a Wine Breather Carafe (search on a Danish design made in Turkey that claims to add 10 times more oxygen in just 2 minutes. They also say that “aerating white wine has the same taste-improving advantages as aerating red wine” and that it is “perfect for all young wines up to 10 years old.” Check it out.

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January 14th, 2015

One Response

  1. The answer is usually: “It all depends.” It depends on the age of the wine, what kind (varietal) of wine it is, the experience or knowledge you have of the producer, and the experience you have with the use of decanters, wine gadgets, and “swirling.” One would need to write a book to fully thresh out this subject. But just as one example: If you are opening a traditionally-made Barolo, then roughly speaking:
    1. If it is less than 5 years old, you might need to decanter it for 3-5 hours. And then swirl it a few times in the glass.
    2. If it is around 10 years old, decanting for 1-2 hours.
    3. If it is 13-18 years old, decanting for 30 to 60 minutes.
    4. If older, open and let it sit for maybe 5 minutes, and then pour into glass and swirl it a few times to release any possible “bottle Stink.”
    5. However, it is just a good guess until you have tried a particular type wine and used the various types of “airing” that you will learn which type and how much “airing” to do for your taste. Until you get that experience, my advice is to call a wine-knowledgeable friend or the wine dealer from whom you bought the wine, tell him or her what you have, and ask, “what would you do?”

    I didn’t mention “wine gadgets,” but they do a good job of aerating the wine. I just don’t have enough experience with them, and there are so many of them, I don’t feel competent to make a specific recommendation on them. Heck, it took me decades to learn my own preferences with just decanting and swirling!

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