How Long To Let Wine Breathe?
Five reasons for Letting Wine Breathe, To breathe or not to breathe, that is the question.
Why do you want a wine to breathe?
The wine in a bottle is still a living organism that requires air to stay alive. Even though it is getting a little air through the cork or screwcap to stay alive over a long period of time, that wine has been couped up in a tiny bottle for either a short or long period of time. It has become tight and closed in like your body cramped in a suitcase. When that suitcase is opened, you do not jump right up and start walking. It takes a while to get limbered up again. The same with wine. You need to Let Your Wine Breathe.
When a wine has the opportunity to breathe;
- It opens up the aromatics of the wine. Wine Aromatics are a very important part of enjoying wine.
- The more you smell the more you taste.
- It unwinds the tightness of the wine to let more characteristics show through.
- If it is a young wine, a longer time exposed to air will help open it up to show more complexity and soften the tannins.
- If it is an older wine, a little time exposed to air will wake it up from its long slumber to revive its liveliness.
- The exposure to air will act like accelerated time in the cellar to show the wine’s full potential and character.
- Letting Wine Breathe helps allow the wine to reflect all that it truly is so that you can enjoy each sip of that wine even more.
Letting Wine Breathe
How to let a wine breathe depends on the age of the wine and how long it has been in the bottle. A younger wine, say less than 3 years old does not need much if any time. A wine 10 or more years old will benefit from an hour of air time.
How the wine gets air can also differ. Older wine is like your dear old grandmother. She should be awakened in the morning gently, slowly, over a longer period of time. A younger wine is like your teenage son. He needs to be shaken to get him started in the morning. Therefore, with an older wine, it is best to use a decanter and pouring the wine gently into it. For a younger wine, don’t worry about decanting, use an aerator that “splashes” the wine and throws air into it.
When letting the wine breathe, you can open a bottle and just let it sit for an hour. If you want to shorten that time, then you can pour it into a decanter to expose the wine to more air and surface.
All wines benefit from letting them breathe. Opposed to general thinking, every wine benefits from air time if it is made well and the length of time depends on how old the wine is. Remember the Ginny in the bottle? It took time for her to work the get loosened up.
Your ability to experience all the nuances of a wine also depends on your ability to smell the aromatics. Letting wine breathe enhances the aromatics of wine and helps your senses experience those aromatics. This is particularly true for more subtle and elegant varietals like Pinot Noir. Because they tend to be less bold and in your face, letting them breathe will enhance your experience while enjoying a glass of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
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