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Aeration of Red Wine

Red wine is aerated by opening the bottle in advance of service. Aeration removes from the bottle musty odors, such as those from an unclean barrel.

The amount of time red wine needs for aeration depends on the age of the wine.

  • Young red wines, usually those under 8 years old, are strong in tannic acid and require 1 to 2 hours to aerate.
  • Mature red wines, generally those over 8 years old, are mellow and need to breathe for approximately 30 minutes, if at all.
  • Very old red wines require no aeration.
  • Wines with delicate bouquets, such as white wine, rose, champagne, and sparkling wines are not aerated and are opened just before service.

Decanting Wine

The narrow neck of the wine bottle may not permit sufficient aeration. If you really want to aerate your wine, pour it into your glass, swirl it around, and let it sit for a while.

A wine can require decanting for two reasons:

  1. It needs aeration or it needs to be separated from sediment that has settled with aging. For breathing purposes, simply pour the bottle of wine into a decanter for serving. Decanting to remove sediment is a delicate process.
    1. Stand the bottle upright.
    2. Leave it upright until the sediment falls to the bottom of the bottle. Two days is best, but even thirty minutes helps.
    3. Remove the cork without disturbing the sediment.
    4. Focus the light of a candle or flashlight below the neck of the bottle.
    5. Slowly pour the wine in a steady stream into the decanter.
    6. Stop pouring when you see the sediment.
  2. It's too tannic to drink. Pour it back and forth between two vessels a few times.

- , Editor, Etiquette Scholar

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