Why Does My Wine Taste Better The Next Day?

Wine Poured From A CarafI really enjoy the wine making information in your newsletters. I bottled my first wine, a California Merlot, last May. It aged in 6.5 L carboys and had 8 months of French oak chips. I racked it twice. It is still a bit young, but interestingly, if I decant the wine and drink it 24 hours later, it is a much better wine. Can you speculate as to why does my wine taste better the next day?

James — MI
Hello James,

The wine taste better the next day because you are allowing time for it to breathe. What is really going on when a wine breathes is it is being introduced to fresh air again, something that it hasn’t had contact with for quite some time. By pulling the cork and simply letting the wine bottle stand or by pouring the wine into a carafe, the air will start a mild oxidative process that will soften the rough edges of the wine’s tannins.

It also allows time for any odd gasses to escape that may have developed during the aging or maturation process. Allowing a wine to breathe has also been known to intensify both the flavor and bouquet of a wine — something that can be a problem for wines that have not been fully aged, however this is not true in every case.

While allowing time for the wine to breathe can be a benefit for some, for many it will have no benefit at all, and for others it may even bring damage, particularly with older wines whose flavor structure has been known to collapse very shortly after decanting.

The wines that are most likely to benefit from breathing are younger, heavy reds that have not yet had time to take complete advantage of the aging process. And, it just so happens that young, red wines is what’s readily available to the home winemaker.

How long you should let the wine breath is another issue. Usually we are talking minutes not hours. More than likely 60 minutes would have been just as good as waiting for the next day to drink your homemade Merlot. As a general rule-of-thumb the younger the wine the more time it may need to take full advantage of breathing, but to say a wine needs until the next day to breathe is excessive from any perspective. Think in terms of a few minutes with a probability of improvement on up to an hour.

Shop Wine Making KitsWith all this being said, unless you have previous experience with decanting a specific wine, giving it time to breath can be a bit of a crap shoot. In the case of your Merlot, you have specific experience with it, so I would not hesitate to let it breathe for 30 minutes and see what you think.

In the case of an unfamiliar wine: if it is white, allowing time for it to breathe is pointless; if it has been aged more than 4 years, not recommended; and if it has been aged 8 or more years, it could be risky in the sense that the wine’s structure could collapse altogether giving the wine a flabby character. Stick with the red wines that are heavy in tannins and short on aging.

James, I hope this answers your question as to why your wine tastes better the next day. You are not the first to bring this up.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

6 thoughts on “Why Does My Wine Taste Better The Next Day?

  1. I love your fantasies in fruit wines. I make banana / mango/ cashew wine and it is very delicious one. But it takes 6 months to clear, banana is loaded with tannins. Should I use more bentonite after fermentation? Or maybe put more enzyme before…? Please, suggest. This year I made mango/strawberry wine. The fermentation was active, completed after 30 days. I received dry wine 13,5% alc. SG 0.994. Bentonited with half-table spoon slurry per gallon and it became cristall-clear after one week. Very delicious, I drink it every day!!!!! Thank you!

    • Walter, there are a few things that can make it difficult to clear a particular wine. Too much tannin and a pectin haze are two of the causes. Below you will find the link to an article that will discuss this in more detail. Additional doses of Bentonite can be added not to exceed 4 tablespoons of slurry mix per gallon of wine.

      Cloudy Wine

  2. Thanks Ed,
    You and your team are very PRO and informative, love it!
    I have an additional to my question:
    – if I pill off and freeze banana BEFORE fermentation will it increase effect of added Pectic Enzyme?
    – if you recommend to use not frozen banana, should I mash it with fork to make it like pure or boil it, or…?
    Please, advise.
    P.S. I have found that frozen fruits are much more active in fermentation and as result the wine is stronger (up to 14.5%alc), fruitier and requires half dose of bentonite slurry.
    What can you say on this? Your comments are always vital, thanks

    • Walter, first thank you for the kinds words! There are benefits to freezing fruit when making wine, so by all means go ahead and freeze the bananas. Actually, freezing the fruit will have a similar effect to boiling the bananas so there is no need to do both. Freezing the fruit does help break down the pectin, so in turn it will help the pectin enzyme do its job. As far as the more active fermentation, it is possible that it helps produce more nutrients when you freeze the fruit.The fruitier flavor is because you froze the fruit. Freezing help break down the fiber therefore extracting more color and flavor.

      Freezing Fruit

  3. This is XLT, thanks for good news. Now I can prove with my own experience that if I did not make a scientific discovery, at least I discovered wider scale to use yeast in tropical climate. Since I have moved from LA to Caribbean I make fruit wine. But because temperature here is high (80-85F at nights and mornings, up to 100F days), my Lalvin 1118 were not able to convert all sugars into alcohol and fermentation was ended with SG 1.005-1.020. Sweet wine, 12% alc. maximum.! Even professional wineries here do not produce dry wine. Instead, they fortify some of their wines with rum. This year I tried to make wines using pre-frozen fruits, Huge improvement!!
    I make dry wine with final SG 0.996 and it is still does not require to sweeting it, keeps all fruit flavor. Yeast are working perfectly in that temperature range, all the way, to the end. After 30 days of fermentation I have clear, tasty strong wine (13.5 – 14.5% alc).
    It requires only half recommended doze of bentonite and after one more week the wine is ready to bottle and even drink without aging! And after another month of aging my wine can compete at any competition in Italy or France (just kidding).
    But I am happy to share with you my experience guessing that other your customers might find it useful.
    Thanks again for your comments.

  4. I made a delicious blueberry wine that I opened 4 weeks ago and just couldn’t finish. A little less than half is still in the bottle in the fridge. I just tasted it and it still tastes fantastic! How can that be?? I thought any oxidation kills off wine in about a week once opened?

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