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The main reactions that the oxygen is fuelling involve the colouring matter the wine gets from the grapes, the tannin it gains from stalks and skins (and sometimes the casks), plus the acids that are present in grapes. These processes gently and slowly strip the wine of its hard edges, in every sense: in a red wine colour changes from deep purple to red, then to a faded brick or mahogany. Tannin is softened, as is acidity.

What is happening in the bottle is not just the removal of negative, harsh flavours and powerful, brash colours. The wine is gaining more and more complex scents the experts say "aromas" and more interesting and subtle tastes as it ages.

Every wine goes through these changes except for very simple ones which are fiercely filtered, or pasteurized, during the process of making or bottling.

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