... but how do you let it breathe???????????????????
Now, I've heard that before many times, from other people's mouths, and, I must admit, in my own head. This excellent response to the question came from "Chef":
Young reds usually benefit from breathing but only if they have been decanted. Don't expect much "evolution" of bouquet and taste if you merely draw the cork an hour before dinner. But decanting really does help. The agitation and aeration of the pouring releases previously closed aromas and has an "opening" effect on the flavour. As a general rule, the younger the wine the more breathing it needs.
And then "Wineaux" had this comment to add:
Yeah...sometimes, if a young wine is really weird tasting, I'll pour it into 2 glass pitchers and pour it violently back and forth between the 2 pitchers. Suprisingly effective for changing the taste...sometimes even for the better!
COOL!!! All this started to clear up some questions for me, so I dug deeper. I found a great article on About.com, entitled Tips for Letting Your Wine Breathe, :
How to Let Your Wine Breathe
Some erroneously believe that merely uncorking a bottle of wine and allowing it to sit for a bit is all it takes to aerate. This method is futile, as there is simply not enough room (read: surface area) at the top of the bottle to permit adequate amounts of air to make contact with the wine. So what's a Wine Lover to do? You have two options: Decanter or Wine Glass
Decanter - use a decanter,a flower vase, an orange juice pitcher, whatever - any large liquid container with a wide opening at the top to pour your bottle of wine into. The increased surface area is the key to allowing more air to make contact with your wine. Keep this in mind while setting up proper "breathing" techniques for your favorite wine.
The Wine Glass - Pour your wine into wine glasses and let it aerate in situ. This is certainly the low-maintenance method and typically works quite well. Just be sure to keep the glass away from the kitchen commotion, while it breathes in peace. * Tip, for pouring wine into glasses make sure that you pour into the center of the glass with a good 10-12 inches of "fall" from bottle to glass to allow for further aeration during the actual pour.
In general, the Aeration Rule of Thumb: the more tannins a wine has the more time it will need to aerate. Lighter-bodied red wines (Pinot Noir for example)that have lower tannin levels, will need little if any time to breathe.
Great advice! I particularly like the tip on 10-12 inches of "fall" into the glass; very easy to do from a box!