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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I just returned from a long-term stay in Italy. I spoke to several wine merchants who instructed me to open a bottle of wine and let it breathe one half hour for each year the wine has been aged. Thus, for a 10-year-old wine, that means opening the bottle five hours prior to consumption. Is this a reasonable rule of thumb?

—Ted L., Kennesaw, Ga.

Dear Ted,

That's a new one to me, and I respectfully disagree. In my experience, mature wines fade quickly after opening, so I decant them (or just open them) right before serving. I've seen the delicate nuances of an old beauty fade within minutes. The subtleties of older wines are fragile. Younger wines are more robust. Of course, I'm speaking in general—I'm sure there are exceptions to my advice.

—Dr. Vinny

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