From To Breathe or Not to Breathe. That is the Question! And the answer might surprise you. By Denman Moody
In May 1977, my friend Alexis Bespaloff published an article entitled “A Corking New Wine Theory” in New York Magazine… Although the article had nothing to do with corks, it nonetheless presented a radical new approach in regard to letting wines breathe.
In blind tastings with Kevin Zraly, cellarmaster at Windows on the World, John Sheldon, wine consultant at Tavern-on-the-Green, and other notables, including Robert Mondavi, Paul Draper of Ridge, and Alexis Lichine of Chateau Prieure – Lichine, a new, and potentially embarrassing, fact was uncovered by Bespaloff.
For Draper, the wine used was his 1974 Geyserville Zinfandel. For Mondavi, his 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and for Lichine, his 1967 Chateau Prieure – Lichine.
In each case, for each taster, one of his bottles was decanted one hour before serving, one was simply uncorked an hour before serving, a third was decanted and served minutes before the tasting and the fourth was just uncorked and served minutes before the tasting… (Mondavi and Lichine also tasted each other’s wines.)
Don’t shoot the messenger, but: In every case, including a 1973 Chateau Pichon-Lalande with Zraly and Sheldon, the bottle that was just uncorked and served - at the time of the tasting - was preferred!