Good question! Proper aeration isn’t as simple as uncorking the bottle and pouring a glass, though. There are other factors to consider, like how long to let wine breathe, the type of container you’re using, and which wines even need to be aerated.
What Does Aerating Wine Do?
Why does wine even need to be aerated – or as some like say, why should it “breathe”?
Aeration is the simple act of exposing the wine to oxygen prior to drinking it. The contact with the air causes two chemical reactions to take place: oxidation and evaporation.These processes alter the various compounds in the wine, developing and enhancing its flavor.
How to Aerate Wine
The easiest way to do this is through the use of a decanter for the entire bottle. If you don’t have a decanter handy, no worries! A large wine glass will also do the trick. To aerate, just pour the wine into the glass or decanter and let the oxygen in the air do it’s thing.
How Long to Let Wine Breathe
Different types of wine need a different amount of time to fully aerate and allow the flavors to completely develop. For instance, young wines with a lot of tannins, like Bordeaux or cabernet sauvignon, need about an hour to breathe and really soften those tannins. White wines, on the other hand, rarely require aeration. Only the fuller bodied whites that are more acidic will really benefit from breathing.
Another group of wines that don’t really need to breathe are less tannic, lighter-bodied reds like pinot noir, light chiantis, and zinfandels. Same goes for less expensive (think under $12) bottles, which are meant to be enjoyed right away.
So there you have it. The next time someone asks you, “What does aerating wine do?”, you now know why and how to do it, and how long to let wine breathe. Learning all this new knowledge definitely has earned you a glass, so break out your favorite bottle of organic wine, aerate if necessary, and enjoy!