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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I bought a bottle of 2004 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and wow, very nice. When I first opened it had a very smoky taste. So strong it gave me vivid dreams last night of fire and smoke! But today that intense taste and smell experience is gone. Still enjoyable, but very different one day later. Is it normal that the drinking experience would evolve that dramatically from one day to the next as the bottle had more exposure to air?
—Paul M., Cherry Hill, N.J.
Oxygen and wine have a temperamental relationship. Sometimes a wine needs more oxygen—it's why we swirl wine glasses or bring out the decanter, so that oxygen can soften the effects of tannic, tight, reduced or closed wines. But too much oxygen and the wine fatigues and fades. Older wines have even a shorter window of exposure to oxygen before they seem to disappear.
The trick is giving the wine just enough air to catch it at the stage you prefer. For most wines, changes will be noticeable after a few hours, and definitely overnight. Some people might have more of a tolerance for wines that have been open a while—I have many friends who can't tell the difference between wines freshly opened and wines that have been open for days.
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