Recently we read about putting wine in a blender to “let it breathe.” Our first panicked thought was, “don’t abuse the wine!” On second thought, we realized the method could have its merits.
“Breathing” is allowing the wine to mix with air to improve its flavor. This simple exercise, however, gets people all worked up over which (if any) wines should breathe and how best to accomplish it.
All wines – from cheap swill to lofty collectible vintages – will change in flavor when they’re subjected to oxygen over time. The change in taste, however, is not necessarily for the better. Aerating serves to mellow the tannic and astringent qualities in some wines. Those wines are typically dry reds – and especially young ones. In a perfect world the reds would be allowed to age gracefully in their bottles until they had sufficiently mellowed. When you open them before their time, they still need some aging – and that’s what breathing does: It accelerates the aging process.
Enter the blender method, which serves the same purpose as decanting (albeit in a much more violent fashion) but achieves the aerating effect in 30 seconds rather than 30 minutes. By the way, if you want to sound like a real oenophile, call this process hyperdecanting.
We conducted our own hyperdecanting experiment. We opened a bottle of Two Buck Chuck Cabernet Sauvignon which, frankly, was quite harsh. Very young, very tannic. We poured some into a blender and whirled it around for 23 seconds. After the foaming subsided, we tasted the wine again. What a difference! Smooth and velvety. Almost like a different wine. Our conclusion: cheap red wine is a good candidate for hyperdecanting.
Barbara and Beverly