Oxygen has a complicated relationship with wine. Leave a glass of wine overnight and it will be completely oxidized and inedible by morning. But if you incorporate it in the right ratio and the right way, the wine tasting experience is enriched. You do this by swirling the wine in the glass, or tracing circles near the rim of the glass. The glass needs to have enough room in order to properly aerate the liquid. Due to this action, swirls form in the liquid that then coat the edges of the glass. This opens up the wine, and begins the breaking down of the molecules. This process of ‘orbital shaking’ allows connoisseurs to appreciate the wine’s smell and taste by churning the liquid with air, and intensifying the scent. Oxygen is also mixed in the wine itself, as it enters the bottle through the cork.
Researchers have found the benefits of oxygen in wine drinking. But in order to derive the most pleasure out of it, the oxidization levels are to be moderation. Too less oxygen, and the wine will not be broken down properly, too much and the wine has become a flat overly oxidized liquid. The average oxygen levels in a wine should be no more than 6 ppm. The oxygen softens the wine. By swirling the wine glass, waves are generated on the inner edge of the glass. These waves displace the liquid from top to bottom, and from center to the peripheral edges of the glass. This breaks down the wine and adds freshness to it. The swirling action is also beneficial to the wine’s aroma. It breaks down the aromatic components of the wine and releases them into the air. This happens due to aeration of the wine. The pleasure received of a wine is a combination of its taste, scent, texture and temperature.
For wine tasters, the scent of the wine is almost as important as the taste itself. Our nose is very sensitive in its ability to smell, so most of the enjoyment derived from the wine is because of its aroma. The aeration will aid in the reaction between the tannins, and oxygen, which will remove the excess acidity present in cheap quality wines. Moreover, the swirling action also allows volatile compounds to escape from the wine. The presence of these substances decreases the pleasure of a wine. By removing them, the flavor is enriched and enhanced.
Like wine ageing, aeration is important in order to get the full experience out of a wine. The swirling action is not merely for appearances, but it has its scientific premises. This deepens the flavor profile of the alcohol, and strengthens its smell, which makes for an intense wine drinking session.