I was out with dinner last week with a group of friends. We all love wine amd so we spent a bit of time choosing vintage date and vintner.
Here is the issue that I would like the group to comment on -
There was universal agreement that the wine needed to breathe. A friend and I felt that at least twenty minutes (perhaps more) was needed for the wine to settle down. Our waiter, obviously anxious to empty the bottle and have us open a second bottle, grabbed one of the filled glasses on the table and began to swirl the wine vigorously. He kept at this for what seemed for several minutes (it was probably less, but time seemed to stand still). He then presented the wine to my friend and viola! it was much better.
The issue was this - the after-taste was markedly different than that experienced by the more patient guests. My feeling is that the wine was artificially aerated and "bruised" by the vigorous aeration techniques.
The wine, by the way was a 2004 Torbreck Shiraz and it truly popped after settling in my glass for 30 minutes - after 45, it was sensational!
I was wondering what the group felt about the "forced aeration" technique foisted upon our group by the restaurant. I was shocked that he did this. This is a restaurant that specializes in wines and gas wonderful food to match. I did not say anything to the manager/owner, but I am still amazed at this stunt.
Original Post
In my experience, simply pulling the cork and letting the wine sit in the bottle generally results in very little improvement, if any. "Letting the wine breathe" in this fashion is largely a newbie fantasy, IMHO.

Decanting, OTOH, which is akin to what you've labeled "forced aeration," can dramatically improve many wines, especially young reds.

Then there's the Mollydooker Shake, which definitely works with Sparky's wines when they're very young, and with some others.
I (and many others) commonly refer to this "forced aeration" technique as "swirling the glass." Practically every wino I've ever met does this ... many do it so much that they often find themselves swirling glasses of water, milk, orange juice, etc... just out of habit!


However, that the waiter took it upon himself to do this to one of the patron's glasses is horrifyingly poor service. I would have said something to the restaurant manager/owner; my comment would have ended with something to the effect of "and I'm never coming here again" or "so, what are you going to do to make me want to come here again?" I would have been beside myself had that happened to me.
Don't know what 04 Torbreck shiraz was poured but even the woodcutters shiraz needs time. I would have put my hand over the glass in between swirlings and said something. I never order off the wine menu anymore, I always bring my own. But if you are on vacation or traveling and you can't bring your own I would lay down the rules for the waiter when he brings the bottle to the table. Brash, this will not happen this christmas! Razz
I like to try wines young to see if I like them. It is because I am young, and I don't have a collection that is old, and I don't have the means to acquire one right away, so I areate to look for wine to trust. Sometimes I find a wine that opens up, sometimes I don't. If they open up, I drink them young, if they don't, then I decide whether or not to buy them and save them for later.
Roentgen - your thinking is pretty good but the problem is that aerating will not necessarily give you an idea of what the wine will turn into.

The main reason to aerate a young wine is to incorporate some oxygen. This does several things. Most importantly, it helps to dissipate or hide the sulfur compounds that create the "bottle funk" and other smells. Mostly what happens is that the funk does not "blow off" as much as form larger molecules with the oxygen that your nose only detects at a higher threshold.

The other reason is because the oxygen will also bind with some of the tannins, "softening" them. So your wine tastes smoother and smells fresher.

But that is different than aging. The aging process can't be reproduced by aeration. The softening of tannins is not the only thing that happens and actually, in some cases, one wonders whether it's happened at all. Thus, a young barrel sample will actually give you no idea whatsoever of what you can expect unless you've tasted a few and seen them develop over time. Of course, the idea of drinking wines young if you like them young is pretty logical. I don't like all aged wines.

But if you want an idea of what you may be in for with aging, you might try a few experiments. Get a new and an old vintage of the same wine. And by old, I don't mean five or six years. Go for at least 10 or better. And try the wines. If you like what happens with the aged version, then you'll have a better idea of where the younger ones will go.

The only reason some people can taste a barrel sample and hazard a guess as to what will happen is that they've tasted some barrel samples of that wine and they've seen its development and it's been the same winemaker and vineyards. And even then they're really shooting in the dark, albeit with some idea of where their target is. And then some people say that a wine should be good at every stage of its development, and that's why I like Rioja.

Aligm2 - Did you ask for a decanter? Did the waiter ask or offer to "show you something" or did he just grab the glass, swirl it and tell you to drink up? If the latter, it would have resulted in his picking up the cost of the wine as far as I'm concerned. He could have done a "hard decant" and it would have been less offensive than grabbing a glass and going nuts with it.

Also, the idea of swirling to aerate the wine is not the same as swirling to disturb the surface so that you can sniff the volatile compounds. In fact, it's counterproductive.
Depending on the wine, I have gone as far as having 2 glasses and pouring back and forth to really get the aroma to remain for at least the first few sips.
quote:

Aligm2 - Did you ask for a decanter? Did the waiter ask or offer to "show you something" or did he just grab the glass, swirl it and tell you to drink up? If the latter, it would have resulted in his picking up the cost of the wine as far as I'm concerned. He could have done a "hard decant" and it would have been less offensive than grabbing a glass and going nuts with it.

Also, the idea of swirling to aerate the wine is not the same ase swirling to disturb the surface so that you can sniff the volatile compounds. In fact, it's counterproductive.


No decanter, no conversation, he just grabbed the wine, started swirling it and pronounced it ready to drink. I was so shocked that I said nothing. In retrospect, I should have stopped him and several members of our group have said the same thing, but we were all shocked at his behavior. One of our group frequents this restaurant frequently and felt that it was not worth persuing.
I am glad that the thread seems to be the same for all of the postings - HORROR!
Experienta docet: It NEVER hurts to have the som decant the wine. Decant every wine, even young Burgundies. The time is very vintage/producer/terriot dependent. Big glasses help.

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