How Long Should Red Wine Breathe?

Daniel Lawson
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If you ask a wine connoisseur about the best practice for wine, you will probably hear aeration, among other things. Letting wine breathe is a practice many wine drinkers observe, but it is still largely unknown in some circles. 

That is because most people buy wine to enjoy instantaneously and don’t think they need to do anything. After all, they did not age the wine. Although brands produce most wines for immediate consumption, some can still benefit from aeration. 

You don’t know the exact date and time the bottle of wine was corked. So, oxidation would benefit the stagnated wine in the bottle. Letting wine breathe enhances its flavor and aroma and softens its tannins. 

The time you should leave the wine to aerate varies from brand to brand. This article will discuss how to aerate wine, its benefits, and how long you should leave wines to breathe. So let’s jump into it. 

The Benefit of Letting Red Wines Breathe

A Glass of Red Wine Stands on the SurfaceMany wine critics talk about wine characterization and how wine changes with the amount of air it gets exposed to. They are not far from the truth. Letting air into red wines is a good way of enriching their taste and revealing their flavor notes.

Most times, when you open a bottle of wine and take a sniff, you will perceive a less-than-pleasant odor. The aroma will improve if you allow the wine to sit and breathe since it has been enclosed in the bottle.

So, if you’re having guests over and wondering how to enhance the experience, letting your red wine breathe is grounds for serving an exquisite beverage. 

How Long Should I Let Red Wines Breathe?

Most critics will recommend wine breathing for flavor enhancement. However, many still argue against the necessity of such a procedure. They see no need for it, seeing as some wine’s terpenes do not change regardless. 

As a rule, do not let older red wines breathe for a long time. The longer you leave wines to age, the quicker they can lose their flavors through any mistake like more prolonged oxidation. 

Although letting the wine breathe improves its taste, oxidation is still the number way of ruining good wines. So be careful when aerating long-aged red wines. You can let it take in air for twenty minutes or thirty. 

A better way of deciding if you need to air the wine is to pour yourself a sample. Wine flavors vary from person to person. Where one might favor flighter flavors, another might go for bold flavors. So take a drink and oxidize for lighter flavors if it’s strong tasting.

Research the brand and aerate the wine according to the manufacturer’s recommendation to avoid spoilage. The air might take a while to get into a wine bottle due to its narrow neck. So consider decanting and allowing the wine to breathe. 

Some brands will recommend letting red wines breathe for an hour or two. But wine’s adverse history with air and oxidation comes into play here. So, follow the brand’s instructions carefully and taste the wine to see if staying that long is necessary.

Is It Necessary to Aerate Red Wines?

No, it’s not all wines that benefit from aeration. White wines certainly do not need aeration unless they are built to age with earth flavors. The same goes for red wines with fruity terpenes. You can drink them once uncorked without worries of flavor distortion. 

Aeration is suitable for young red wines. It softens their harsh tannins, displaying a range of flavors and aromas. Sulfur and tannies, among other things, are what to expect from older wines. These properties can produce foul odors in older wines while aerating eradicates them.  

Decanting older vintage wine eliminates the chances of getting a glass full of sediment as you near the end of the bottle. You can aerate both old and young red ones while it sits in your wine glass. Simply swirl the wine around your wine glass to mix air with the wine. 

How Long Should Red Wine Breathe?How to Optimize Your Wine-Drinking Experience

Many consider wine drinking an art and an experience. Here are some tips to optimize your wine-drinking experience

Serve Wine at Its Optimal Temperature

Traditionally, people serve red wines at room temperature, while white wines are served chilled. Red wines open up and realize their full potential with a consistent temperature while aging. Note that the serving temperature is not the same as storing temperature.

The wine rule is not against serving red wines chilled. But ensure not to freeze red wines and leave them on the counter after defrosting to age at room temperature. Or keep them where light and heat can get to them. It will change the flavor notes of the wine. 

Aerate the Wine

Pour the wine into a wine decanter and let it sit before serving. Wine decanters work wonders as a mechanism for aeration by availing the wine surface to air. Or you can use a wine aerator. With wine aerators, you can efficiently serve the wine without pouring it back into the bottle after aerating it. They attach to wine bottles and come equipped with serving spouts.

Drink With the Appropriate Glass

Drinking wine with regular glasses cheapens the experience for many people. So invest in good wine glasses. There are different designs of wine glasses, but they all support pouring wine and stopping at the widest part of the glass. And this allows the wine to air, and you can swirl it without spilling. 


It’s not all red wine that requires aeration. Taste the wine after uncorking it to determine if aerating it would influence its flavor positively. Sometimes, the wine is good to go without the extra work of airing. 

Swirl the wine around your wine glass and take another sip after a while. The drink’s taste will likely change once the tannins settle, mixing air and alcohol. The recommended aeration time is 20 to thirty minutes.

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