Young red wines typically benefit from breathing, along with a smaller number of whites. When exposed to air for as little as 15-20 minutes the wines will begin to improve. Wine decanting the process by which wine is allowed to mix with air, the wine warms opening the wine’s aromas softening the flavour profile and in the case of red separating tannins until overall flavour characteristics improve.
Why Wines Oxidise
However wine oxidisation can occur in as little as 2-8 hours upon the open bottle being exposed to air. The largest variable in oxidation surface area that is in contact with air following opening and pouring, thus a wine lasts longer when it is exposed to air over a smaller surface. This is useful to understand as transferring wine to a smaller container can prolong it’s life by a day or two. When wine is left exposed to air in an open bottle, it deteriorates rapidly as the air reacts with the critical components in wine that create its complex aroma and flavour profile. What began as a bold, complex and fruity wine ends it’s life as a dull and lifeless fluid devoid of its unique fruit scents, and over an even longer time an aroma evocative of vinegar.
Wine is a complex blend of chemicals created by the yeasts fermentation process. Extropy states that any mixture of chemical entities will try to rearrange itself into its most favorable energetic state. In the simplest of terms, this means that the various molecules making up a bootle of wine will swap tiny charged particles called electrons, depending on the redox state of the wine. During the chemical reaction between any two partners, one entity is reduced (gains electrons), at the extent of its donating partner which is oxidized. While red wines being exposed more heavily to skin have more compounds known as phenolics (tannins and anthocyanins) which act as buffers as white wines largely lack this buffering capacity, they spoil far sooner without adequate protection from air.