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Do You Aerate White Wine? A Complete Overview

14 Feb 2023

Are you wondering whether to aerate white wine? This common question has puzzled many wine enthusiasts. The reality is, aerating white wine can enhance its flavor and aroma, making your wine experience more enjoyable. In this blog post, we'll delve into everything you need to know about aerating white wine. So, if you're asking, "does white wine need to breathe?" keep reading to find out!

What is Aeration?

Aeration is the process of exposing wine to oxygen to release its aromas and enhance its flavor. Aeration significantly impacts the wine's taste, enabling the flavors and aromas to be more noticeable. By letting the tannins mellow, which contribute to a wine's bitterness, the outcome is a smoother and more balanced flavor profile.

Should you Aerate White Wine?

The idea of aeration for white wines is somewhat debated. Some people think whites don't need to be aerated, while others maintain that aeration is beneficial for specific types of whites. In general, most experts agree that whites do benefit from aeration if they are aged or bolder wines.1 These wines tend to be fuller-bodied and higher in alcohol content, requiring more oxygen to open up and reach their full flavor potential.

However, lighter, fruitier wines may not benefit much from aeration and could even be harmed by over-oxygenation. Therefore, the answer to the question "does white wine need to breathe?" may depend on the type of white wine being consumed. Nevertheless, most experts agree that aeration can enhance a white wine if done properly.

How to Aerate White Wine

Aerating white wine involves exposing it to oxygen, which helps soften and open up the flavor profile. The amount of aeration a wine needs depends on the type of white wine and personal preference. There are several ways to aerate white wine, including decanting, swirling, and using a decanter or aerator.



Decanting wine is a simple and common way to aerate white wine. Begin by pouring the wine into a large container with a wide opening and let it sit for 0-15 minutes. This will help release some of the wine's aromas and flavors.


Swirling is another method for aerating white wine. Fill your glass with wine, grasp the stem with one hand, and delicately twirl the wine glass in a circular pattern. If you've been to a wine tasting before, this should be familiar. Oxygen will be released into the wine as you swirl, softening the flavors and aromas.

Using a Wine Decanter or Wine Aerator

A wine decanter or wine aerator can also be used to aerate white wine. A decanter is a tool used to pour wine from one vessel to another, while an aerator is a device that pumps air into the wine bottle as you pour. Both devices allow more oxygen to enter the wine, resulting in a softer, smoother taste.

When done correctly, wine aeration can help soften tannins, enhance aromas, and reveal subtle flavors.2 There is no definitive rule on how long to aerate white wines, but to avoid diluting or washing out fruity or oaky notes, give them 0-15 minutes to breathe before serving.

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How to Know if You Properly Aerated White Wine

After following the steps above for aerating wine, there are a few ways to determine if you have done it correctly.


One way is to simply taste the wine. If the flavor seems more robust and the aromas are more intense, then you've likely aerated it correctly.


You can also tell if a wine has been properly aerated by observing its color. A well-aerated white wine will appear brighter and clearer.

Aerating White Wine vs. Red Wine

Aerating White Wine vs. Red Wine

It's important to note that you don't necessarily need to let white wine breathe as much as red wine. While aeration can help improve the flavor of white wine, it's not essential to achieve a satisfying result. Red wines, on the other hand, are typically more tannic, so wine aeration can help soften the harsh tannins and release the flavors of the wine.3

Aerating White Wine vs. Red Wine

Discover and Aerate Great Wines with Barbank

From Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir and everything in between, there's a vast selection of wines to explore and savor, each with its unique set of characteristics determined by climate, grape variety, and production methods. However, unlocking the secrets of each wine requires additional effort.

Understanding how to properly aerate wine can elevate your enjoyment to new heights.

At Barbank, our online liquor delivery service offers the most luxurious and high-quality wines, from young wines to older wines, Josh Cellars to Caymus Vineyards, and much more. For the best Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, white blend wines, and more, discover your new favorite wine for your palate today!


  1. ThoughtCo. Why Aerate Wine? Science Behind Letting Wine Breathe.
  1. Binwise. What is a Wine Aerator?
  1. Wine Cooler Direct. A Brief Guide to Decanting & Aerating Wine.
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