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Which Wines Require Aerating?

In our article on decanting, we talked about why aerating wine enhanced the wine drinking experience. We recommend reading the whole article, but to put it briefly, decanting exposes wine to oxygen, which helps integrate the tannins into the wine. This opens up the wine, which changes the flavor and improves the drinking experience. This is also called “aerating” the wine. Any quality wine will benefit from aeration, but today’s blog discusses which wines especially benefit from aerating, and which wines are best for drinking right after opening.

Which Red Wines to Aerate

In general, aeration most benefits young red wines, as these have the most tannins. Aeration for an hour helps soften those tannins, allowing for full integration into the wine and taking the harsh edge off a robust vintage.

Varieties that benefit most from an hour of aeration include:

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Petite Sirah
  • Nebbiolo
  • Bordeaux
  • Syrah

…among others! With a little patience, these wines can reveal subtler and softer aromas and flavors that might be hidden when poured straight from the bottle. If your young red wine feels harsher or aromatic in an unpleasant sense, you might have a wine that could be described as “tight” or “closed.” After an hour in a decanter, you might be surprised at how much that wine can change.

Can White Wine Be Aerated?

Aerating a white wine can result in more harmonious flavor and smoothness, which helps reveal a wine’s deeper taste and aroma. White wines typically require less aeration time. Try aerating your white wine for no more than 30 minutes. White wines that benefit from aeration include White Bordeaux, white Burgundies, Alsatian wines, and Chardonnay. Light-bodied whites like Chablis or Riesling can also benefit greatly from aeration, and sweet wines such as Sauternes benefit as well.

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