What is the reason to let the wine breathe ?
Breathing the wine simply means exposing it to the air for some time. There are many complex compounds, including tannins within the wine, particularly the younger red wines that impart a harsh taste flavor to it. When the wine is exposed to the air, it starts to oxidize and some of those harsher flavors will evaporate, giving it a smoother, softer taste. The other reason to breathe the wine is to release all of those wonderful aromas that have been confined within the wine since bottling.
Methods of breathing the wine
There are several traditional methods that are commonly used to breathe the wine. The simplest way is to just remove the cork or cap before drinking. Many wine drinkers like to decant the wine into another container such as a carafe, jug or a decanter. Other folk just give the wine a swirl around the glass. Hyperdecanting! Aerating by pulsing the wine in a blender. Nowadays, wine aerators are being used more and more.
Removing the cork
One of the best known methods is to simply remove the cork or cap for a couple of hours prior to drinking. The problem is if you forget to open the bottle, you have to drink it straight out of the bottle. The other issue is that it doesn’t work. The neck of the bottle is tiny and the amount of wine exposed to the air is negligible so it can’t possibly breathe effectively.
Decanting the wine
This method of aerating the wine is much better that simply opening the bottle and leaving it. The reason is that much more of the wine’s surface comes into contact with the air. Air touches the wine when it is poured, and if the wine is poured onto the inner surface of the decanter this increases exposure. Additionally, decanting the wine for an hour helps because of the large surface area of the decanter.
Giving the wine a swirl in a glass
This is another good method to breathe the wine. As it is swirled around the glass, a film of wine is left on the glass and this releases those lovely fragrances. It is an instant way to aerate but after a few glasses, spills can occur especially when the glass is held aloft. It is best to place the glass on a flat surface to swirl.
There are folk that empty the wine into a blender and give it a good hyper aeration. Gives a huge amount of oxygen to the wine in a very short time. The problem is that you can aerate the wine too much and spoil it. Also, it means a degree of cleaning involved when finished with the blender.
The latest, and arguably the greatest way to breathe the wine is to use an aerator. These clever gadgets aerate the wine as it is poured into the glass, or decanter. As the wine passes through the device, it pulls air through tiny holes and the wine gets exposed to a lot of air. The great thing about aerators is the fact that you don’t need to think about breathing the wine in advance because it is aerated in real time. The added advantage of some types is that they keep out sediment from the glass.
Types of aerators
There are three basic types of aerators. There are two unattached types and one attached type.
One unattached version has to be held above the glass with one hand and the bottle is held in the other hand. This means you can’t hold the glass and direct the wine onto its inner surface, thus releasing more aromas. They can splash and spill when removing from above the glass.
The other unattached type is one that is place onto the glass. These are great because they push the wine out onto the glass’s inner surface.
The attached aerator third type, fits into the neck of the bottle and allows you to hold the glass in the other hand so you can direct the wine onto the inside of its surface. This type keeps out sediment and also has an airtight fit into the bottle, meaning very little or no spillages.