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Breath of fresh air

By Nickunj Malik - Feb 05,2014 - Last updated at Feb 05,2014

It is all about breathing, actually. One takes some time to realise this but that is all there is to it. With each cycle of inhaling and exhaling, we reinforce the fact that we are living beings. And the moment we stop breathing, we cease to be, in every sense of the term.

The very first gulp of air is forced into our tiny lungs the moment we are born, sometimes instigated by a smart slap on our behinds, by the obstetrician or midwife in charge. It is only after we yell back in response that a confirmation of our origin is marked on the birth certificate. Subsequently, with every breath we take, our bodies grow and develop till we achieve adulthood. And finally, our last gasp transports us into an oblivion from where nobody has ever come back to tell the tale.

This is a well documented fact and most of us are familiar with it. What comes as a big surprise is when the term “breathing” is associated with inanimate things like wine for instance, particularly red wine.

For people who like their “happy hour” it is no longer sufficient to order an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink looking at the pricelist that is supplied by the bartender. With the advancement in culinary science, one is now also supposed to gather additional knowledge about the beverages that accompany particular dishes. Even the most uninitiated of us follow the blanket rule of asking for white wine with white meat, and red wine with a rare, medium or well done steak.

The challenge presents itself when one is in the company of a wine snob. Who is that you want to know? I will tell you in just a minute. It is easy to spot one in any party. They usually are the ones pontificating about the year of the wine, its proper pronunciation, its maturity, the right temperature, the correct concentric swirl, the cut of the glass in which it is served and so on. If a goblet of wine handed to them is without a stem, they throw an instant tantrum.

And that is even before they get down to the “decanting” part. This is the process of transferring the contents of a wine bottle into a wide bottomed, narrow necked decanter for sometime so that it can “breathe”; aerated wines give out more aromas and flavours upon serving. Such is the belief. And for the wine snobs, all several of them, it is also the gospel truth.

I am not a wine expert and every glass of bubbly tastes the same to me. It is by the intensity of the hangover that I suffer the next day that I conclude whether the wine served to me was of good quality or not.

So, wine snobs usually keep away from me. But the other night at a party I was accosted by one.

‘This wine needs to breathe,” a posh voice said.

“It has a nose?” I asked.

“Can you decipher the wispy notes of lively rose and vanilla?” the posh voice continued.

“Nope, only the taste of fermented and dead grapes,” I said.

“Should have been decanted for an hour at least,” the voice insisted.

“Yes, or poured into a new bottle,” I suggested, swiveling my glass.

One shapely eyebrow was arched at me and after that I was left alone.

I immediately breathed in a sigh of relief. 

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