How long does it take wine to breathe?

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We all known wines evolve in the cellar and also in the glass, while interacting with Oxygen, wine can take on a whole new flavor profile.   When it comes to length of time, it really all depends on each wine.   There are many gadgets that help accelerate airing time, they do help a little bit but to fully enjoy a bottle of aged wine, nothing can replace time. 

First, white wines usually don’t need to breathe, their delicate flavors and supple aromas can be enjoyed soon after opening.  More intense red wines with more structure and complexity often require time to open up. 

Golden white wine glass with pistachio nuts S

Though, it is not always the case, younger and more tannic wine will take longer to air allowing it to soften in texture while its fruit darken for more pronounced flavors.  Wines that are very old, 20-40 years old can be fragile, their flavor can peak after some airing but might fade away if left out for too long.

Wines from the New World tend to be more expressive, bolder in flavors and therefore usually require less time to air.  Likewise, fruit-driven wines (from the New World) share the same similarity, their flavors can be enjoyed relatively quickly after opening of bottle.  On the other hand, wines with high minerality and earth often take much longer to air completely.  Spanish Wine from Ribera Del Duero or wines of Burgundy, France take significantly longer to air.  Some continue to evolve over a period of 4 hours, sometime more.  For some, they actually improve after another day in the bottle (of course, with the cork on). 

Frankly, there is really no guideline on how long to aerate a bottle of wine, the best way is to let settle for 20 minutes or so after opening, then have a first sip, patiently taste it over the next hour or two to see how they evolve.  This adds another dimensions and interest in wine tasting.  Although, there is one simple rule of thumb about airing wine, if the wine evolve for the better after extended airing, it is likely to age well in the cellar. 

Alright, so next time you wonder how long to let your wine breathe, don’t worry about it, have some fun and taste it over the next hour.  Share some tasting notes with your friends and sometime, unpredictability can be fun.

3 bottles and decanters

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