How long do we let it breath?

This is always a question I get at the store. Based on the wine, I provide them with different information. Plus, on the market today are those aerators which help ‘speed’ up the breathing time. Personally, I do not use those aerators (but have done demo’s for customers on how ‘breathing’ makes a difference, I just like to open it up and let it breath by itself.

Different wines require different breathing time. I am curious on how others view the times to allow a wine to be ‘gracefully’ ready at the table.

This is what I tell customers, as just a rule of thumb.

  • Italian Reds Anywhere from 2 to 4 hours
    Cabernet Sauvignon - 1 hour
    Merlot - 30 to 45 minutes
    Pinot Noir - 15 minutes
    Shiraz - 0 time
    Red Zins - 0 time to 15 minutes
    Blends - Right away
    French Reds - a very loaded amount
    Whites - Varies, but never to long

Ron, you continually mention that you work in a wine shop, which is fine and good to know, but this board has a requirement that those in the business (ITB) reflect that in your signature. It’s pretty obvious in your posts, but still, you should modify your signature.

With regards to your post, I think you overally generalize things and are pretty inconsistent. For example ‘Blends’ are ‘right away’. First, blends is way too general, and some of the worlds best blends (i.e. Bordeaux, etc.) require many hours of air time. ‘French reds’? Come on.

In addition, you fail to take the age of the wine into account. Perhaps you assume the bottle you are selling will be consumed that night, but without factoring age into the equation, I think your rules of thumb are meaningless.

Your list is a bit like suggesting what kind of mileage one should expect from a German car…

I think you have the right idea basically - that wines improve with air time and how much time depends on the body, youth, and style of the wine. But are you just pulling the cork, or decanting?

In general, I think the differences you list are ones I’d also expect, though I’d lengthen the short times on the wines with those short times.

Don’t forget to mention a gently cool serving temperature too. I can’t think of any wine I’d like at “room temperature”! Hugh Johnson has a chart in the “World Atlas of Wine” where he shows recommended ranges for just about every wine on Earth. The chart only goes as high as 64F. :slight_smile:

One aspect many overlook is letting white wines breathe, eg young Chardonnay.

Are you asking us if the list is accurate? It’s not at all.

Each wine is different based on a multitude of factors: age, acid, tannin, style, varietal, personal taste, etc. etc. etc.

Generally, generalizations in wine are a pretty poor idea.

I agree that the list is not very accurate.

But I also believe that sometimes generalizations can be made for those without specific knowledge and a benefit may be provided >50% of the time. This can work until the knowledge or experience is obtained.

Again, this list is not very accurate.

I agree. It’s worse than oversimplified. Barolo could use hours, but a simple Montepulciano d’Abruzzo would likely be flat on its face after that much time.

Blends - right away??? What kind of blends? Napa cab and merlot?

Indeed, I’m not sure how you could have any “rules of thumb” that are so general. Also, if you’re just popping a cork and letting it “breathe,” there’s not actually a lot of oxygen that’s going to mix in with the wine with the limited periods you suggest.
It’s hard to generalize about this, but when I can be bothered to do so, I like to pour most of my reds into a simple glass decanter. If I can’t get around to this admittedly simple step, I make sure to swirl the crap out of my younger reds, and be “rough” with them in sloshing them into my glass.
Sometimes I’ll use the vinturi someone gave me if I’m feeling like a need an accessory, although my favorite wine store guy advocates just plugging the top with your thumb and giving reds a good shake for 10 seconds if you’re trying to speed aeration.
And if I’m opening something for dinner that I know needs some time, I’ll open it, pour out a glass, and let it all sit on the counter for a few hours.
So, yea. Hard to generalize. But in short, I try to be find someway to give most reds a little shot of oxygen. I’m not generally (read: ever) messing around with super high end stuff, however. In those cases you’d certainly want a more nuanced approach.

Here’s a rule that’s far from perfect, but I think better.

  1. Assume no decanting except per rule 2.
  2. For Old World wines and New World cabs that cost more than $25, decant for Y times 30 minutes where Y= price/$25. E.g., a $50 cabernet would get 1 hour.

I know you, OP, mean well with this post but as an honest question when answering a customer how do you fine tume your response from your mentioned rules of thumb?

Geez, that’s more inane than the original post. Seriously?

Epic fail

Breathe is spelt with an e

Not entirely. But think about it. It’s not as stupid as it might sound.