Should I Let My Wine Breathe? | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Should I Let My Wine Breathe?

Should I Let My Wine Breathe?

L’chaim answers this and other reader questions

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Digg icon
e-mail icon

Going through my email bag to answer some of your questions about kosher wines and spirits. If you have a question, from the simple to the seriously technical, feel free to email me at and I will answer either directly or here in this space.

Q: What is meant by allowing a wine to breathe?

A: A wine breathes in the sense that exposure to air—or breathing—helps unlock a wine’s inner character as the wine softens and opens up through interaction with oxygen. The wine will become more “expressive” as it releases more of its aromas and flavors from this aeration. This is why wine lovers swirl wine in their glasses, further unleashing the wine’s aromas and flavors.

Effective exposure of wine to air in the process of wine service is usually induced through vigorous swirling in one’s glass. Some folks also like to decant wine to facilitate aeration.

Too much air, however, will negatively impact wine—inducing oxidation and eventually the growth of vinegar bacteria—this is why wine tends not to last more than a few days once the bottle has been opened.

Q: What is a wine decanter? Do I need one? When and how should I use it?

A: A decanter is a serving vessel into which wine is decanted, or poured, from its initial container. Decanters are typically made of glass or crystal, and come with a stopper (if stopper-less, they are more properly called carafes).

No, you do not really need one. But their use generally makes for an aesthetically pleasing refinement in the service of wine, especially when serving a wine that has precipitated a lot of sediment.

Sediment is solid matter that typically settles to the bottom of wine containers. It is natural and harmless, but not terribly pleasant. The vast majority of wines produced around the world are meant to be consumed long before any sediment has developed.

Some folks also like to decant really young wines, even though no sediment is present, because the aeration that ensues in pouring wine from its closed container into a decanter, especially when done vigorously, is thought to really benefit and open an otherwise tight and closed wine.

When decanting a wine to open it, simply pour the wine from bottle to decanter, maximizing agitation of the liquid, so that the wine is given plenty of contact with the air. When decanting wine to separate it from its sediment, pour gradually, being careful to prevent the sediment from entering the decanter.

Regardless of why one chooses to decant, however, doing so at the last possible moment is widely considered preferable so as to maximally enjoy the evolving sensory impressions of the wine’s interaction with the air in one’s glass. If for some reason one is determined to drink a wine that is simply not yet ready to be drunk, vigorous and prolonged decanting is typically recommended—but why commit such vinous infanticide?

Q: What’s good this week?

A: Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvee Eva Blanc, Galilee, Israel, 2015 ($20; non-mevushal): This splendid white blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette, 20% Marsanne, and 10% Roussanne, exhibits inviting and delicious fresh and fruity notes aromas and flavors of dried herbs, honeysuckle, white peach, pineapple, citrus fruit, a touch of vanilla, and lovely green apple, all buttressed by stony minerality. Crisp, refreshing, and tasty. L’Chaim!

Join The Discussion