Is It True that Wine Needs to Breathe?

It sounds a bit funny, but just like humans, wine needs oxygen and so it needs to breathe. Just don’t sit around waiting and watching for your wine to inhale and exhale! Obviously, that isn’t going to happen. Breathing for wine is simply being exposed to oxygen. This is especially necessary after the wine has been cooped up in a bottle for a long time. This exposure to air is sometime called oxygenating the wine.


How Do You Let Your Wine Breathe?

There are various methods to oxygenating your wine. Some are gentle and natural and others are a bit more controversial because they involve a much less natural process.

Here are 4 Ways to Oxygenate Wine:

1. Remove the Cork. Wait.

2. Decant

3. Aerate

4. Use a Blender


Let’s start with the most unusual way to oxygenate wine — the Blender!

It’s exactly what you think. Put the wine into a blend and turn the blender on. The spinning oxygenates the wine, but we’re not sure how well it “breathes!” This is also called “hyperdecanting,” for obvious reasons. We’ve heard of this happening, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. That said, some people swear by it. It’s an effective way to get as much air into the wine in a short amount of time. However, it’s certainly not gentle so you do risk changing the wine too much. Yes, too much of a good thing can be too much.

Not sure how to put wine in a blender? Here’s a video:



Next up is Aerating the Wine

Aerating is not the same as decanting (discussed next). Aerating is done with a device like a Rabbit or Vinturi and is a much quicker process than decanting wine, but not as quick as a blender!

A Rabbit aerator fits right into the neck of the bottle after the cork is removed. There is a plastic pour spout that aerates the wine as you pour it from the bottle to the glass. According to the Rabbit Wine website, it works like this:

pressure is built in the funnel. This pressure draws oxygen into the wine creating an immediate reaction. You can see it working by the bubbles and gurgling sound that the wine makes when passing through the Rabbit Stainless Steel Aerator. This process creates oxidation and evaporation of the wine which enhances the taste.

It looks like this:

wine decanter, breathe, oxygen, let your wine breathe
Rabbit Aerator for Oxygenating Wine. Image Source. Rabbit Wine

A Vinturi type aerator is held over top of the wine glass as you pour the wine through the aerator. It works in much the same way as the Rabbit. Here’s what a Vinturi aerator looks like:

let your wine breathe, decant, aerate wine, oxygenate
Vinturi Aerator. Image Source: Amazon


Now we get into a more natural way to let your wine breathe — Decanting.

One of the best ways to let your wine breathe is to pour the wine into a decanter and let it sit out for at least 30 minutes. Wines that have stronger tannins or younger reds may need an hour or more for them to soften and open up. Older vintages might need less time to breathe because you don’t want the flavours to be overpowered by oxygen. Because everyone’s enjoyment of wine is different, you’ll want to decant to your own personal taste. Keep in mind that without decanting, some wines don’t show their full potential. If you find that the tannins are to strong and “grippy,” it’s challenging to appreciate the flavour components when it feels like your tongue is made of leather! Decanters are a great option for a balance between efficiency and naturally letting your wine breathe. Decanters have are designed to expose more of the wine to oxygen than a wine bottle. If you love wine a good decanter is a great investment.


decanting wine, let your wine breathe
Riedel Decanter Ultra for Wine. Image Source: Riedel


If time is on your side, remove the cork, and wait — while your wine breathes!

Some consumers and wine professionals would argue that this is the best way to let a wine breathe. Simply remove the cork, pour out a couple of ounces in your glass to check the health of the wine, then wait. If this is the way you choose to let wine breathe, make sure you’ve got a few hours before drinking the wine. Some wine enthusiasts will open the wine in the morning and believe it to be ready by dinner. Others will open the wine mid afternoon, pour during cocktail hour and the wine is ready to go for dinner. Again, this is a matter of personal taste. In this situation, it’s good to have a decanter anyway, just in case you haven’t given the wine enough time.


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