BY Mental Floss UK iStock by Aliya Whiteley At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.
Yet that's by the letter of the unwritten law what you're supposed to do. Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons. Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.
The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored. Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.
Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it.
In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor. However, how much of that actually matters today? However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity.
The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste.
If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.
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