What is wine decanting?
Decanting wine is essentially the process of pouring the contents of the bottle into a decanter. The wine can then be served directly from the decanter.
Why do we decant wine?
There are two reasons why we decant wines:
- We decant older wine to separate the sediment from the wine.
- We decant younger wine to increase oxygenation, helping to reveal more complexity, and to open up aromas and flavours.
How do we decant wine?
To decant older wines it is a good idea to let the bottle sit upright for a day or so before serving. This allows any sediment to settle to the bottom. We can open the bottle and pour it into the decanter being careful to slow our pour as the bottle becomes less than half full. Once we notice sediment in the neck of the bottle we can stop pouring and discard the last ounce or two of sediment filled wine. Slowly decanting the last half of the wine ensures sediment stays in the bottle and you get a clear wine in the decanter and therefore in your glass. Older (more than 10 years) wines can be decanted moments before they are served. Younger wines will have less (if any) sediment and should be decanted by tipping the bottle directly into the decanter to allow for splashing into the vessel to promote oxygenation. Younger wines (less than 10 years) can be decanted a half hour to a few hours before they are served. The main preserving ingredient in wine is carbon dioxide which becomes part of the wine during the first fermentation. Decanting diminishes the amount of carbon dioxide and “matures” the wine allowing the bouquet to develop faster. On the palate, decanted wine expresses higher levels of fruit in red wines and tends to integrate and smooth tannins.
Decant young wines a half hour to a few hours before serving and make sure to pour them directly into the decanter to allow for the splashing into the vessel.
If you have never decanted your wines do yourself a huge favour and try the following: Using identical glasses (yes, the glass matters too) decant half the bottle and sample a few ounces from the decanter and a few ounces from the bottle. You can draw your own conclusions but I believe the outcome will speak for itself.