Let It Breathe - How To Aerate Your Wine

The world of wine can often seem like an alien one. From etiquette to tasting technique, the common functions of wine drinking can be mystifying. One such area that confuses many has to do with letting a wine breathe.

What are we talking about when letting wine breathe is mentioned? It is the simple act of exposing wine to the surrounding air. This is better known as aeration. The aeration process smoothes out the sharp edges of a wine. It can be the difference between drinking a wine that overpowers the palette and one that simply has strong, distinct flavors you can parcel out and enjoy.

The first step in the process of letting a wine breathe is making sure you have a wine that actually needs to breathe. Most white wines, for instance, do not need exposure to the air to fortify the taste. Red wines, on the other hand, almost always should be aerated before being poured. The tend to come out of the bottle a bit overpowering, which makes the softening effect of the aeration process especially beneficial.

You see it all the time. People pop the cork on a bottle of wine and then let the bottle sit exposed to the air. Is this aeration? Not really. The wine is not really effected because there simply isn’t enough wine actually exposed to the air. That small gap at the top of the wine bottle is just not going to cut it. If someone suggests to you that this is the proper way to let wine breathe, you can smile and know they really do not have a clue.

In most scenarios, the best way to aerate a wine is to pour it into your wine glass and let it sit. Make sure the pour covers six inches or more from the tip of the bottle to the glass. Unlike beer, you also want to make sure the wine hits the middle of the bottom of the glass. With beer, this will give you a huge head, which is bad. With wine, however, it gets plenty of air into the wine, which is good. Depending on the glass, more wine should be exposed to the air. Swirling it every thirty seconds or so will further this exposure.

If possible, an even better way to let a wine breathe is to use a decanter. A decanter is usually a glass container that is leaning to one side or another for the purpose of creating the largest possible surface where wine and air can interact. In a pinch, any old juice pitcher will even work. Just pour the wine back into the bottle to create the right look!

If you are drinking red wine, letting it breathe is a critical step. To do it right, make sure to go beyond just popping the cork.

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About The Author, Nomad Rick
Rick Chapo writes for NomadJournals.com - makers of wine tasting journals that make great wine gifts for wine drinkers.