Breathing wine

For centuries it has been known that decanting – allowing a wine to be in contact with air for a period – improves a red wine. A whole industry and wedding-gift business has sprung up as a result, from carafes to various devices (typically expensive) that ‘assist’ the process. And of course, the grave ritual.

So I thought I would share Nathan Myhrvold’s approach. Which has zero mystique and maximal logic.



Of course it seems brutal and sacrilegious, but once you accept that the whole point of ‘breathing’ is getting air into contact with wine, then this approach makes sense. I’m not sure why nearly everyone enjoys shocking their wine connoisseur friends, but as  a bonus you can do that with this method too. The remarkable thing is, when professional oenologists are asked to perform blind comparisons, they either prefer the blended wine or can’t tell the difference.

Fear about the wine ‘breaking’ is unfounded. Wine is a liquid, there’s nothing to break. The energy input to the wine by the blades is nowhere near sufficient to break a molecular bond for example, and the blending process is too quick to cause heating.

The aquarium bubbler method is my own addition, because I was experimenting with foams and airs recently. The blender makes more sense because nearly everyone has one.

A closing quote from Nathan (he calls it hyperdecanting):

In our own tests, we have never found a red wine that wasn’t improved (at least a little) by hyper decanting – as judged by multiple people in blind tastings. Even legendary wines, like the 1982 Château Margaux, benefit from a quick run through the blender.”

You have to smile. And to try it too. Decant half a bottle, and frappé the other half… make mad-scientist sounds if you feel a need to…

I’m sorry about the ritual.