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Q: Which Wines need to Breathe?

by David on June 9, 2008

Question from Jack: Which wines need to breathe?

Reply: Hi, Jack! Thanks for writing! I suppose any well-made wine can benefit from getting a little air before serving, except sparkling wine and very old wine, but young reds seem to benefit the most.

I’m going to suggest that you go a step beyond pulling the cork to let the wine “breathe”. If you take a look, you’ll see that there’s very little opportunity for air exchange through that skinny little bottle neck. You have some much better options.

Try pouring the wine into a decanter an hour or so (unless it’s old) before dinner. Moving the wine from one container to another exposes it to air and the time, just sitting, is beneficial too. For young, tannic reds go ahead and splash the wine into the decanter.

If you have a nice, old red - call me – ;-) and then stand it up for several hours to get the sediment to the bottom. Decant it off the sediment at serving time and down the hatch! Older reds shouldn’t be decanted too early because, if the wine is tired, the extra air might just push it over the hill.

If you forget to decant, pour the wine into the glasses on your dinner table a little ahead of time. That small amount will change quite rapidly in the glass while you’re in the other room munching on hors d’oeuvres. If you’re really brave, another way to catch up is to suggest that your guests swirl the wine. The swirling releases aromatic compounds and makes the wine more fragrant. Beware red wine, white table cloths and inexperienced swirlers! ;-)

I hope that helps! If you’d like more information on wine service, you might enjoy this article. Cheers!

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