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lying dormant Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

Allowing a Wine to Breathe

pouring_wineI'm not a morning person; you will never find me voluntarily awake before 7 a.m.   Nor am I a night owl; once I finally got past my youth-crazed drive to stay up til all-hours, nowadays the nights I'm awake past midnight are few and far between.   I, for one, peak and thrive right about mid-day; it's during those hours that I'm at my absolute best.  In fact, we all have our unique biorhythms and body clocks, with low points and high points and plateaus in-between.   And you know what?… so does wine — and even during just one evening.   Think of it this way: bottled wine is dormant wine.   While plugged up in a glass bottle for months (if not years) wine is, well, asleep.   And just as we do while we sleep, a wine slowly changes; it develops, grows, and transforms during the period of time before the bottle in which it's contained is opened.  Similar to when we awake from our own sleep, a wine starts off a bit sullen and groggy, and after being uncorked, really begins to show itself, to awaken to its full glory, and express and interact to its fullest potential.

So where am I going with this?   Simple: you'll notice that only until after a solid few hours of having opened a bottle of wine, that it's at its absolute best. And the reason is oxygen: the very thing that will ultimately degrade a wine and turn in into vinegar (in a biochemical reaction whose explanation is beyond the scope of this article) will, in the short term, be the same thing that seduces it into its most expressive state.   The most ready example of this can be found in a bottle that's opened on one evening — then set aside unfinished, re-corked, and consumed the following evening — is almost invariably better the following night.   And that's simply because the wine has been exposed to just enough air to react with the complex aroma and flavor compounds to bring it to it's best.

Anytime I have the chance to plan a bit in advance, I open a bottle of wine in the morning before I start my day, pour a bit into a glass (it's not enough to just uncork it, you need to get some air into that bottle), and then set aside until later that evening.   Sure, the idea of opening a bottle of wine while you're hankering for a early morning caffeine-fix may be distasteful, but you're not sipping anything… just doing a minute or so of preparation.   So get over it!  Whip out the bottle, open it, pour a bit in a glass, and push it aside until dinnertime. It truly does make a difference.   What's more is you'll notice — assuming you've had no company to help you finish it off that same evening — that the leftover wine is even better the following evening, after having been aerating for a day and a half. end

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