Pacific Rim
October 17, 2022 | wine | Pacific Rim

How Long Should Red Wine Breathe?

As you pour a delicious glass of red wine, something nags at the back of your mind. Lifting it to your lips, you suddenly remember. You were supposed to let it breathe before you drank it, right? Not necessarily. Understanding how long to let red wine breathe depends on many different factors, and understanding each of them is key to the best wine-drinking experience. So, wondering how long should red wine breathe? Read on.

How Long Should Red Wine Breathe?

The simple truth is that there’s no universal rule in terms of how long a wine should breathe. Instead, it’s dependent on the type of wine you select. In most cases, red wines tend to need to breathe more than white wines do, but there are some white wines that improve as they’re exposed to the surrounding air. There are a few guidelines you can use to help you decide whether a bit of extra time will help your wine’s flavor profile soften and mellow with a bit of extra time. 

Do a bit of research before you open the bottle. Does this type of wine typically need breathing time? If so, how long is recommended?

Always decide whether you think the wine could benefit from a bit of aeration by pouring a small glass immediately after opening. As you drink, note any unpleasant aromas or flavors. Things like rubber or sulfur are a sure sign that you need to let the wine breathe. 

Any wine with a high tannin level will benefit from at least a half hour of aeration. 

Young Cabernet Sauvignon bottles typically need at least an hour to properly aerate and soften their flavors. 

Young Pinot Noir wines need at least 20 minutes per glass to breathe. If you intend to drink more than one glass or you’re serving it with dinner, let it breathe for at least 2 hours. 

Aged red wines are far more delicate and can quickly over oxidize. Aerate for no more than fifteen to thirty minutes to avoid losing flavor. 

How To Allow Your Wine to Breathe

If you believe your wine needs a bit of extra breathing time, there’s certainly a right way and a wrong way to do it. Just uncorking the bottle and allowing it to sit open simply won’t work. Not enough surface area of the wine is being exposed to the air to actually allow it to breathe. There are, though, two good options. First, you can use a decanter. Pour your bottle of wine into the decanter, then allow it to sit for the recommended period. The second method is to simply pour your wine into your glass and let it sit for as long as recommended. You’ll want to keep your glass in a fairly still place, however, while it breathes. 

How long should red wine breathe? While not every bottle of red you open will need to breathe, understanding how long the bottle of red you just bought needs is absolutely essential before you enjoy it. Check out our red wines today!


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