Why Does Wine Need to Breathe?

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Is aerating wine really necessary?

Does wine need to breathe, is aerating really necessary or is it just a snob thing? There isn’t an answer that’s good for all occasions, but it’s really not difficult to get right. Read on and you’ll always enjoy your wines to the full.

Why does wine need to breath in decanter?

What about Chianti?

As this site is a site about tours to Chianti let’s talk about Chianti. It’s always a good idea to allow Chianti to breathe, I suggest a good eight hours in an opened bottle at room temperature. If you can’t plan ahead for this length of time, decant it for about an hour. It can and does make a difference! Straight out of the bottle Chianti will seem flat and very acidic, but let it breath and you’ll have a totally different experience, and a very enjoyable one at that.

Are there wines that don’t need to breathe?

In general, white wines and some roses don’t benefit from aeration because they don’t contain the high levels of pigment molecules found in red wines. It is these pigments that change flavor in response to oxidation.

Inexpensive red wines tend not to improve in flavor from aeration . In fact, oxidation may make them taste flat after half an hour and bad after an hour! If an inexpensive red smells strongly of alcohol immediately upon opening, one simple option is to pour the wine and allow a few minutes for the odor to dissipate.

How To Aerate Wine

In my opinion there are only two ways…the bottle or a decanter. Well there’s also the glass, but this is the last stage. I don’t believe in aerators.

The bottle: As a bottle will only expose a small surface area through the neck, aerating will need a considerably longer time. Two/three hours for a young wine, and even eight hours for an aged and structured product.

The decanter: You could pour the wine into a decanter. A decanter is a large container that can hold the entire bottle. Most have a small neck, to allow easy pouring, a large surface area, to permit mixing with air, and a curved shape to prevent wine sediment from getting into the glass. Here a half hour to an hour is usually sufficient

The glass: If you don’t have an aerator or a decanter, you can pour the wine back and forth between two containers or simply swirl the wine in your glass before drinking it. Actually a very brief swirl before every sip is something I always do. Just a couple of spins, no more.

The aereator: Often used but I don’t think they’re of any use. The time the wine spends in the aerator is a split second, which just isn’t enough to make a difference.

So now you know why wine needs to breathe, you might like to further your knowledge by participating in a wine tasting class at Monterinaldi winery on one of my tours. You can read more here.


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