Wine in restaurants

Many good wine - clarets for example - need to breath for a few hours or more before being served. Indeed, some don’t taste that good straight out of the bottle. How do restaurants, particularly expensive ones, cope with this? It seems silly to me to spend £100 or more on a fine bottle of wine and not drink it at its best.

It seems silly to me period to drop 100 quid on a bottle of wine, and yet I have had to do it for entertaining…

I was at a very expensive restaurant in Paris once where my host told me that every few hours they opened a few bottles of the “house special” wines, to allow them to breathe before serving. I told him that I imagined this might lead to some wasted wine, but he told me that the Staff would enjoy it after hours as a sort of fringe benefit, so it was all good. :slight_smile:

You can get a fair bit of air into a wine (as well as getting rid of sediment) by decanting it.

My SO’s father, who is a pretty avid wine drinker, likes to order his wine early so that it can be decanted (assuming it’s a good enough bottle). Oftentimes, if decanting it is not an option, he’ll still ask for the bottle and let the first glass be served, even though we usually all still have our starting drinks. That at least lets the first glass be aerated in the glass, and the remaining wine is exposed to some air in the bottle.

In a really fancy restaurant, it isn’t uncommon to have many courses, and a white wine is often drank with the soup/salad/appetizer and a red with the main course. White wines don’t need to be decanted, just chilled, and this gives time for the red to aerate. A good restaurant, serving high-quality wines, should always have some sort of decanter available, IMHO and IME.

Does swirling in a goblet help it to breathe? I met a wine buyer in Spain who suggested doing the swirling motion.

From what I have read, ANY action that increases the surface area of the wine, bringing it into contact with the air, will let it breathe. Just pouring it does a little (just not very much). Swirling it is better, but the best is, of course, decanting.

AND, just opening the bottle, and expect the wine to ‘breathe’ is almost completely pointless. Only a tiny amount of air manages to get through the bottleneck and there’s only a very small surface area exposed. Decanting is the way to go!

I remember seeing a prototype accelerated-wine-airing device - it was like a long syringe with a weight on the plunger; it was placed into the neck of the opened bottle and the weight pushed the plunger down slowly, causing a stream of tiny air bubbles to pass through the wine (the nozzle extended to about halfway down the bottle) - ‘airing’ the wine in about one minute.

I’m not sure if it ever went into production and it might well be the sort of device that wine afficionados would despise.

I have always wondered if letting wine breathe did any good. Has anyone seen double blind tests that showed if the wine is better after breathing?

This page says it makes no difference. I can’t find details on any such test though…

Breathing can greatly improve some wines. If the wine is young, it makes no difference whatsoever. But there are some great older wines that really need time and air to “open up.” Just pour it into the glass, swirl it around a little, and then make small talk with the person next to you until the wine decides it is ready. Then…enjoy.

This rule does not apply to MD20-20, Thunderbird, or Ripple. :wink:

What about Boone’s Farm?