Tag Archives: aerating the wine

Is it Necessary to Swirl the Wine?


Question from Jess: In your last post you referred to swirling the wine. Is that really necessary? What difference does it make? I feel really silly and pretentious doing it.

Reply: Hi, Jess. Thanks for writing! I don’t know that it’s necessary, but it can certainly add to your pleasure.

You be the judge. Try this experiment: Pour yourself a glass of any sort of wine, preferably not too cold (cold wine doesn’t have much of a fragrance, as we discussed in that last post). Don’t fill it too full. A half-glass is fine. If the wine has been in the fridge, just take it out and wait 30-45 minutes to do the experiment.

Smell the wine. BTW, when you smell the wine, you should actually put your nose in the glass – no long-distance sniffing! Smells good? Now, set the glass down on the table and grip the stem, close to the base. Swirl briskly to get the liquid really moving in the glass. After swirling vigorously for several seconds, smell the wine again. Notice the difference? Continue reading

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Do I Need to Decant the Wine?

Question from Janice: On the back label of a wine I just bought it says to decant it for an hour before serving it. Which wines need to be decanted? How do I know how long? Does it matter what kind of decanter I use? 

Reply: Hi, Janice. Thanks for writing! You can decant just about any wine except for a bubbly, but reds seem to be the wines that benefit the most. Especially vintage Port. 

There are two different reasons to decant your wine. In short: 

1. To help young wine become more expressive.
2. To remove old wine from its sediment. 

Many of us like to decant young reds because it makes them more expressive. Wine that, initially, seems to have nothing to say may open up like a fragrant flower on a warm afternoon! If there’s any off aroma, it will blow off unless there’s something really wrong with the wine. It’s fine to splash it around a bit to give it some extra aeration.

I’m not very scientific about how long. Big reds may need more time than the lighter ones. An hour or two should be plenty of time. 

TIP! I like to taste the wine before decanting it so I can enjoy the way it evolves over several hours.  Continue reading

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