LETTING WINE BREATHE- HOW AND WHY?
One of the most popular questions we hear in relation to letting wine breathe is why? So, why do we let wine breathe? It’s a fair question to ask; after all you wouldn’t let many other drinks sit for a reasonable time before drinking them, so why should you do this with wine?
Letting wine breathe – is this really necessary?
Let’s get one thing straight to starte, 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 alright(ish) but not at its best.
Most experienced wine drinkers know that opening the bottle in advance and letting the wine sit and relax will make a difference to the taste- but do you really have eight hours or so to wait? Just think a moment on the size of the neck of the bottle how much air can really enter the wine below and how will it reach the bottom of the bottle? To set you mind at ease, we will discuss methods of letting wine breathe later in this article on Letting Wine Breathe.
Back, to our question, why bother letting wine breathe? Simple, we want to improve the taste and drinking experience. You will be surprised at how much difference and how much better it will taste when you let wine and air mix together. You will get a lot more appreciation from your wine whether it is red or white wines. For most non-professionals the change is most noticeable in red wines.
How do you get wine to breathe?
So, how do you go about letting wine breathe ? The least efficient way of letting wine breathe is the simply open the bottle and let it stand. For some wines the standing might be for eight hours or more so it isn’t very practical for the modern day drinker of wine. So whilst the wine will be exposed to the air it is not very efficient and we live in the twenty first century so we love efficiency and effectiveness.
Another option for letting the wine breath is to use a glass decanter. Open the bottle of wine, pour the wine into the decanter, which starts the aeration process and then you can leave the decanter until you are ready to pour the wine into the glass and take your first sniff and sip. Decanters are invariably designed to increase the surface area of the wine in contact with the air to enhance the level of wine aeration.
The Downton Abbey method- works but…
A decanter option is typically viewed as a more traditional method. For wines which are famed for a heavy tannin content, like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc, the wine is often the wine is decanted from the bottle to the decanter using a decanting funnel, such as a Black Velvet WineWeaver, to assist with the smooth transfer of wine from one vessel to the other and to add the benefit of more aeration in the process.
We mentioned 8 hours earlier in the article, that is because some heavy tannic wines could be left in the decanter for 8 or more hours before drinking. Yes, imagine the butler, Mr Carson in Downton Abbey pulling a bottle from the cellar immediately after breakfast and decanting it for the dinner at 8pm. No small wonder the cook had to decide what was being served for dinner early!
So what to do if you can’t have a butler like Mr Carson in Downton Abbey or Jeeves of Jeeves and Wooster fame? We scratched our heads and had to come up with something which works immediately, minimises the washing up (I know, we don’t have a scullery maid either) and yet gives us a fabulous, straight after work wine experience.
We designed a wine aerator which get straight to the point of letting wine breathe. Basically it is a very, very old tried and tested method with a modern look. The objective is to lets you pour the wine from the bottle directly into your wine glass (no decanter washing and drying issues) and whilst you pour the WineWeaver’s perforated spout starts the aeration process which continues until the wine reaches the final part of the glass. It lets the wine aerate and thus immediately improves the flavour, releases the scents of the wine to enhance the drinking experience.
The 21st Century
The WineWeaver gives decanting a twenty-first century make-over and not before time either! If you want to know more about how the technology works check How WineWeaver aerates
All you have to do is choose your wine, choose your glass and adjust the spout. Open, pour and drink your enhanced wine. Could it be easier?
That covers most commercially sold wines, but remember, wine aerators aren’t in the business of trying to work miracles, they are a tool to improving the drinking experience and in our next section we explain a little more about fine wines and wine aeration.
How long should you let wine breathe
There are no hard and fast rules for letting wine breathe, and much will depend upon the grape varietal and vintage, in particular the vast majority of red wines will invariably benefit from some level of aeration. Wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon are famous for the tannin in the wine. This isn’t a bad thing, it is a natural product of the wine-making process. Remember, some wines and in particular old world wines, take years to make before they are released to the public and even then, the wine-maker might suggest the bottle are laid down (to wait) before drinking.
So your wine might have been sitting and waiting for years before you open it. So utilising a wine aerator like the WineWeaver can greatly speed up the time that is takes for a wine to breathe, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of aerated wine in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take. That is why, just opening the bottle and letting it sit isn’t really very useful. The wine needs a little wake-up call after all that waiting around. A gentle wake-up call so don’t try to shake the bottle!
Top Tips- letting your wine breathe
So, when letting your wine breathe you have to consider the tannic content of your wine. Our top tip is just ask your wine merchant when selecting the wine what the tannic content is like- light, medium or heavy. If it is light or medium, then just use the WineWeaver straight on the glass. If it is heavy you can use a WineWeaver with either a decanter or jug.
Professional Wine Taster and Master Sommelier, Christopher Delalonde often writes about the impact wine aeration has upon different wines in our Wine Lovers Blog, so why not take a look at Christopher’s Posts and find out a little more about letting wine breathe.
In summary, preparation is everything so buy a wine aerator now and when you are ready choose your wine and the wine glass, open the bottle, pour and drink. You will be loved for the skill, visual delight and pure pleasure of drinking an aerated wine.
PS: Just in case you didn’t already know Downton Abbey now have the Countess Grantham Collection of wine. As the UK is known for it’s sparkling wine and the Countess is an American, it will be no surprise to you that it is a wine from California.