Breathing - Wine Tasting Term

What does it mean when you let a wine breathe? Does wine really need to breathe?

When wines are bottled, they are usually bottled with an inert gas so that no oxygen remains in the bottle to spoil the wine. The wine is sometimes thought to become 'closed' as a result. Remember, most of what you taste in a wine actually comes from your nose smelling the aromas. Your tongue can only taste 4 things - sweet, sour, salty, bitter.

However, people who pop the cork and think it does anything are fooling themselves :) Look at the tiny circular surface area of the top of the bottle. There is no air "swirling around" in that tiny space. No air is interacting with the wine to do anything at all. To properly let a wine breathe, you pour it into a decanter that has a *large* surface area exposed. It is the combination of the wine whooshing into the decanter, and that very large surface area, that allows a change to take place and the aromas to develop. If you want to let a wine breathe, that is what you need to do.

Usually it is only red wines that have been stuck in a bottle for many years that need that breathing. A young red, or any white wine, usually does not benefit from breathing. And if it is a very OLD wine, it can be quite delicate and often breathing will destroy what remains of the flavors and aromas.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.