People often ask if it's necessary to open wines before drinking so they can "breathe." And how long will the wine last after it’s been opened? We have answers!
Allowing a wine to breathe simply means exposing the wine to oxygen. So just opening the bottle won’t help because the neck of the wine bottle is too narrow.
The wine must be "decanted," or poured into a vessel with a broad base, so the surface of the wine is exposed to oxygen. Now the magic of breathing begins!
One of our favorite pastimes is searching the brocante (flea markets) for old crystal decanters. These unique and inexpensive (€5 or so) vessels work perfectly. But you may decide you’d like to buy a beautiful traditional decanter.
All of our Languedoc-Roussillon red wines benefit from decanting. Generally, the longer a wine will keep in the cellar, the longer the decanting time should be when the wine is young. For example, a two-year-old wine that you have been advised will drink perfectly in ten years should be decanted at least two hours before enjoying. But when that same wine is close to ten years old, decanting for 30 minutes to one hour should be enough.
Another general rule: wines made from Mediterranean red grape varieties benefit the most from decanting because the blends contain enough tannins and phenolic compounds to give the wine a long life. These include Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Cinsault.
We test wines every week to see how long we still love them after we open them. Best not to decant the whole bottle if you’re not going to drink it all. Instead, pour a glass or two of wine an hour before serving. Then, "aspirate" the bottle (remove the air) with a vacuum pump such as a VacuVin Wine Saver and store for later.
We like to aspirate our bottles then refrigerate. Most red wines will keep for two to three days, but we've had several drink really well after a week!
If you decant the full bottle, you can also pour any remaining wine back and aspirate. The wine will likely be best within 24 hours. Experiment for yourself!