Give it air

It’s great in moderation but too much can be destructive. I’m talking about the influence of air on wine. Ever noticed how some wines seem to get better as they sit in the glass? They appear to develop more flavour and gain a softer texture. Air reacts with freshly poured wine making most taste better. That is particularly evident in red wine but some robust white wines also benefit from exposure to air.

If a wine gets better in the glass there’s a chance you may have missed out on potential quality if the glass is empty before it reaches a plateau. I prefer the term “plateau” to “peak” because in my experience wine seems to improve fairly quickly, hold for quite a time then go into gradual decline.

Decanting wine, or using one of the many aeration devices now on the market, can make it taste better. I routinely decant all red and some white wines for around 30 minutes before serving. Old wines under cork and most wines sealed with a screwcap are the strongest candidates for this treatment.

It’s no use simply opening a bottle and letting it sit, you need to slosh it into a decanter or jug to make any difference. Be careful not to expose old wines to too much air. If they seem to be going downhill administer glass-to-mouth resuscitation with all haste.


First published in KiaOra Magazine – Aug 2010.

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