Letting Wine Breath

So, you have heard people tell you that you should allow wine to breath but you are left wondering.

What is this all about? Do I have to do it with every bottle? How do I know if I should do it or not?

Well, first of all, just to clear up any confusion, this applies only to red wine. The expression "letting wine breath" means opening the bottle and allowing the wine to mix and react with the air for some period of time before you actually drink it. You can simply open the bottle and leave it standing - if you are worried about dust or insects, you can always stuff a small piece of tissue in the bottle. If you are particularly fussy - and well organised, you might even pour the wine into a decanter. The reason for doing this is that some wines needs this period in order to achieve their full flavour.

Long ago, back in the seventies, very little red wine that was worth drinking was ready as soon as you pulled out the cork. Pretty well everything needed to be allowed to breath for one or two hours. Things are different now. Most cheaper wines that you will get from a supermarket are ready to drink as soon as you open the bottle. There appears to have been an effort to achieve this in order to make wines more accessible so that more folks will drink them.

The very best wines all require this procedure and I expoect that this will always be so. As for the rest - intermediate wines may or may not benefit from this.

This is not really a dilemma though. The first thing that you should consider is that pretty well no red wine out there is going to be harmed by being left open for a couple of hours. The only exception that I can think of would be something like Beaujolais en Primeur when you might loose some of the rawness that goes with such wines. So, when in doubt get the cork out an hour or so before your meal will be ready.

I suppose that leaves another question, what should you do if you want to open and drink some wine now and you do not have the time to allow it to breath? Again, the answer is simple, keep a few bottles of your local supermarket's cheapie on hand and then you will always be ready.

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