Tip: leave your wines to breathe!

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Chandra's Cooking with Wine

Almost all homes have one or two wine carafes, more often used as vases for flowers or decorative features. Most of them have probably never held a single drop of wine! It's a pity, because opportunities for putting wine in carafes are more common than you may think.

Decanting wine and putting it in a carafe are often mixed up, but they are not the same thing, although they both serve to aerate the wine and leave it to breathe. When you pour wine into a carafe and shake it, the liquid absorbs oxygen, increasing the intensity and complexity of the bouquet. The longer the wine is in the carafe, the more oxygenated it becomes, which affects its colour and taste after a while. The tannins stabilise and the wine becomes more rounded and smoother. But there are limits: if exposed to the air for too long, the wine will tend to become oxidised. Its colour turns brownish and it takes on an unpleasant aroma, both in the nose and the mouth.

These days we talk about decanting when the wine is not served from the open bottle. But originally, the operation consisted of carefully pouring an old wine into a carafe to remove any deposits (residues of pigments and tannins built up at the bottom of the bottle, tartar, etc.). Modern wines have less deposits so it's less important to decant them, and some are not suited to long exposure to air. Generally it's enough to put them into a carafe briefly before drinking them. This operation is suitable for many types of wines: young fruity wines, white wines, liqueur wines and even Champagne. For young red wines, the following rule applies: the more powerful, concentrated and young the wine is, the longer it should be in the carafe. It's better not to put fragile old red wines in a carafe, because they find it difficult to absorb oxygen quickly, and they can diminish rapidly.

We recommend that you always rinse out your carafe with wine before use, making sure it covers all the sides. Use a brush to clean it and rinse it with warm water. A Kukident tablet may be useful to remove stubborn stains. Leave the carafe to dry fully before pouring in the wine.