Question from James: Do I need to let the wine breathe before I drink it? It’s one of those things you hear all the time, but you’re not really sure what to do.
Reply: Thanks for writing, James. Yes, this is a common question, and giving the wine some air is a great idea.I’ve noticed that the wines that benefit the most from getting some air are young reds. They kind of resemble tight rose buds – they can be very tightly wound. When the bud is all closed up it doesn’t have much fragrance. But after it opens up, the lovely scent is released. For a lot of people, letting the wine breathe is a matter of pulling the cork early (or unscrewing these days!). There’s not a lot of point in that. That skinny little bottle neck isn’t going to allow for much air exchange. So, once you’ve pulled that cork you need to go an extra step to get any good out of it. There are a few different things you can do. The easiest thing to do is to pour it into a decanter or a pitcher an hour or so before you plan to serve it. If it’s a young wine you can splash it around quite a bit and it will thank you for it!
Say you forgot to do that and your guests are arriving? If the table’s all set, go ahead and pour the wine into their glasses sitting there on the table. That little bit of wine will open up quickly while you’re having hors d’oeuvres on the patio.