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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Does letting a bottle of wine sit for a bit before pouring into a glass make the wine taste better? I’ve often heard that once you open a bottle of wine, you should allow it to sit for a few minutes before pouring, that this helps the wine “breathe” and in the end taste better. Is this true?
—Nancy S., Santa Clarita, Calif.
As I’ve explained before, to say that a wine “breathes” is just how we describe what happens when a wine is aerating, or being exposed to oxygen.
It’s true that aeration can help many wines become more expressive. Most of the time that’s a good thing, but aeration can also expose a wine’s flaws or make older or more delicate wines fade quickly. Young, tannic red wines typically benefit the most from “breathing.”
And while it’s true that the aeration process will begin as soon as you open a bottle, to get the full benefit, it’s better if you give the wine more surface area, either by pouring it into a decanter or simply by pouring it into your wineglass and giving it a couple of swirls.
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