Today is Friday, you have a long weekend. You have decided to open a bottle to sip. Maybe it’s an old Bordeaux, or a young, vibrant Chile. You pour a little into the glass and smell. A bit of disappointment fell when the wine smelled like burnt matches and rotten eggs.
Do not be afraid. Pouring all the wine from the bottle into a decanter may be all you need.
First, let’s solve this problem. Not all wines need to be decanter. Decanting is necessary most for younger red wines that need maximum aeration or for older wines to help remove sediment.
However, almost every wine will improve with some aeration, whether in the decanter or through a quick swirl in the glass. So how long does it take for wine to breathe? And how long should you rotate before your wrist feels like it’s about to fall off? Your answer depends on many things.
If you have a young, elegant and highly tannic Rhône red, it may take at least an hour to decanter to soften the tannins and round out the hard edges. This applies to most wines of similar structure and concentration. However, for an easy-drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, something fresh, aromatic and full of citrus fruit aromas, an hour of breathing can overshadow the qualities that make up the character. of wine.
However, a few swirls and a little time to breathe in the glass will often help reduce the aroma or smell associated with sulfur in the wine.
Here are a few tips to help determine the breathing time of wine so that each time the wine is poured, the wine will taste better. Even at home, try pouring a little before you enjoy.
Just like the bartender at a restaurant, pour a small sample to check your nose and palate before you commit to a full glass. Some wines may have some reducing or sulfuric notes, especially aromas of rubber, burnt matches or rotten eggs. Usually these scents will dissipate after 10-15 minutes. You can choose a decanter, but it may be simpler to pour a small beaker and stir to see if the odors fade.
Immature tannic reds need oxygen to soften the tannins
Whether it’s young Napa Cab, Argentine Malbec or Aussie Shiraz, these wines often need a dose of oxygen to smooth out any roughness and soften the tannins. Of course, if you’re excited that these wines can be poured straight out of the bottle, there’s no need to delay. Letting them breathe for too long can unduly soften their plush nature.
However, most young, tannic red bottles can benefit from some strong swirls and 10-20 minutes in the glass. This will help open up large, mature wines and allow the overpowering oak notes to fully combine with the fruit and often high alcohol content.
Older vintage wines can be ready straight out of the bottle
There is a common misconception that all old wines need to be decanted for several hours. The truth is, even a few minutes in the decanter can over-oxidize a delicate, older wine. It can erase drinking time in just a few short seconds.
However, there are older wines, often those that begin to have high tannins, alcohol levels, and fruit concentration, which will benefit after a few minutes to fully open the glass. These can also benefit from purification.
The general rule for older wines is that the lighter and older the wine, the less aeration is required. When in doubt, pour a small sample into a glass and test. Red wines tend to lose color with age, meaning that lighter colored wines require less aeration. Older, ruby-colored, light, opaque wines will need more oxygen.
The opposite is true for white wines, which will color as they age.
That’s not to say that all white and sparkling wines can’t benefit from a little oxygen . If any reductive notes are detected in the white wine, expose the wine to a bit of air and possibly soak in the decanter for 10-15 minutes. The same is true for wines that are deep yellow and white and may need a bit of room to breathe. But the majority of these wines come out of the bottle ready to shake.
If you pour a sample and the wine is a bit muted or doesn’t smell as good as expected, add a little more to your glass and shake it off. The problem will usually resolve on its own.
Enjoy the process
One of the best parts of tasting wine is seeing how it develops from opening until the last sip. Nothing is more rewarding than when the final taste from a highly anticipated wine is the best of the bottle. It allows you to fully appreciate the journey it took to get there. So while aeration and decanting some wines will certainly help lead them to their ideal drinking time, to enjoy a wine’s natural evolution after opening is a great pleasure. its own.
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