WHY ALLOW WINE TO BREATHE?
There is a range of common questions that are often asked about wine. One of the most popular ones is this: why allow wine to breathe? It’s a fair question to ask; after all you wouldn’t let many other drinks sit for a while before drinking them, so why should you do it with wine?
You may have heard that most wines get better with age. This is because the flavors have an opportunity to deepen and become much better than they would be if you were to drink a brand new wine virtually as soon as it was made. So time is definitely a good thing to have when you want to drink some wine.
But what about letting it breathe – is it really necessary?
Let’s get one thing straight here. If you want to uncork a fresh bottle, pour out a glass and drink it straightaway, you can do. There is nothing stopping you from doing this and the wine will certainly taste fine.
But you will be surprised at how much different – and how much better – it will taste if you leave it to breathe for a while. The air does a lot of good things to a bottle or glass of wine, and you will get a lot more appreciation from it if you do let it mix with the air for a time.
How do you do it?
Why allow wine to breathe? Let’s find out. There are two main ways to do it, and contrary to what some people believe, one of these methods is not to uncork the bottle and leave it standing. There is simply no room at the neck of the bottle for this to work.
Some people decant the wine into a decanter and leave it to stand for a while. This method works well but you still need to leave it for a bit to get the best results. Alternatively you can use an aerator. This is designed to let you pour the wine from the bottle directly into the glass if you wish. This means you can drink it straightaway, because the design of an aerator is such that it allows the biggest volume of air to come into contact with the largest volume of wine.
Is there a length of time you should leave it for?
It really all depends on your method of letting it breathe. If you use an aerator as described above, you can pour the wine and get the most out of it straightaway. If you do a taste test with wine poured straight from the bottle and wine poured through the aerator, you will notice a significant difference.
Alternatively if you are using a decanter you may want to leave it to sit for an hour or so. But in either case you now have the answer to the question: why allow wine to breathe? It is simply so you can get the very best out of every mouthful.