Breathing is Important

So I opened a bottle of Domaine Jean Fournier Marsannay ’05 Burgundy.  I was pairing it with my go to meal for Pinot, grilled tuna.  Intially, it was tight and dry, not unexpected.  2005 was a great vintage for Burgundy – it made many of the entry level wines, well, more drinkable  for the “american” palate.  But it also provided some great bones for the mid level wines.  This wine retails at a reasonable $24, and shows great staying power and balance.

I wanted to see how it was developing, and it was initially a bit disappointing.  It was showing dry with leathery hints – okay with a different meal perhaps, but it just didn’t have a enough fruit to marry well with Tuna.  I hate it when a wine doesn’t match well (especially a more expensive one) .   But I gave it another try the next night with a beef and broccoli stir fry.  I love Pinot Noir with Asian food, the acid balances the sweetness in most sauces well.  It was much better.  Now, to be fair, I think the extra day open helped smooth out the wine, giving it that velvety property I was looking for on day one.  Perhaps I should have decanted, which  I think is a good idea for most reds, but I generally skip for Pinot’s.  But it was a much different wine on day two – so I know that a few more years in the bottle will make this a very nice wine.

I think something that most everyday wine drinkers don’t do enough is allow a wine to breathe.  I often find that many wines show better the second day.  This applies to wines over the $15 retail mark, as most wines under that drink well right out of the bottle (as they should).  White wines sometimes need a bit of air as well, though mostly Chardonnay.  I think many people lose the best part of wine by not decanting or opening it ahead of time.

I tell people to do a simple test for decanting wines – pour 1/2 the bottle into the decanter, wait 15 minutes and then taste side by side.  And you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a decanter either, a $15 one does the job for most wines.  And a quick aside, Syrah (or Shiraz) needs air more than other wines, and can usually stand up better after several days open than other red wines.

So the next time you are disappointed with a red wine, give it a chance… to breathe!

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