When should you let your wine breathe?

You’re uncorking a wine you’re looking forward to tasting –what’s next?

What’s next is not the same for all wines. Some benefit from aerating and some don’t need it.

  • Most whites and rosés do not need aerating
  • Most young reds benefit from aerating
  • Most older reds (8-10 years) benefit from separating any sediment, but little aeration.

Exposing your wine to air (oxidizing) helps the tannins mellow. This is extremely helpful with young reds—and you can let them breathe for up to one hour. Aged reds generally mellow in the aging process. (Just like us!) So, they don’t need much aerating. Sometimes they do have sediment formed. To separate the sediment, let the bottle stand vertically for a day or two so that the sediment settles to the bottom. Then pour slowly, trying to let the murky wine and sediment stay in the bottle.

How to aerate: The narrow neck of the wine bottle is not very conducive to aerating wine. The classic and best way to let your wine breathe is to pour it into a decanter. Decanters are large-bottomed glass bottles that you can pour an entire bottle of wine into to let it breathe/aerate before enjoying. You can also just pour the wine into large wine glasses and wait patiently. And yes, there are aeration gadgets that you can purchase at wine shops.

Try it out: compare the difference of wine you let aerate with some you drink immediately after opening the bottle. We notice that just when we let a glass of wine sit and open up as we linger over a meal, the depth and breadth of the wine develops.