For wine lovers, decanting is not just a ritual; it's an essential process to improve the taste, aroma, and texture of the wine.
Decanting is the process of pouring aged wine from the bottle into a separate container, typically a wine decanter, allowing the wine to breathe and remove impurities. Decanting is not necessary for young wine.
This process serves two primary purposes: separating the wine from any sediment and aerating the wine to enhance its flavors. Some call it a "wine aerator", but wine decanter is mostly used.
In this blog post, we will delve deeper into why you should decant wines, when you should do it, and how to decant and serve wine like a pro.
Why You Should Decant Wine
There are two primary reasons why you should decant wine: to remove any sediment and to aerate the wine.
- Wine is a complex blend of flavors and aromas that improve with age. However, as it ages, sediments may form at the bottom of the bottle, reducing the clarity and taste of the wine.
- Decanting the wine helps separate the wine from the sediment, ensuring that only the pure liquid is poured into your glass.
- Aeration involves exposing the wine to oxygen, which helps release the wine's flavors and aromas. Think of it as blooming a flower; by exposing the wine to air, you can unlock its full potential.
- Decanting removes the sediments and aerates the wine, allowing it to breathe and enhancing its flavors and aromas. It helps soften the tannins and brings out the fruit's flavors.
- Wine glasses are in fact wine decanters, but due to their size, their decanting functions are limited. Glass decanters are common, but a serving wine in a crystal decanter serves as a compliment to the fine wine being served.
When You Should Decant Wine
Old and aged wines of more than ten years of age are the ideal candidates for decanting, since - if aged properly - they have more sediments.
Not all types of wines require decanting, but certain wines benefit greatly from the process. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Old red wines with sediment should always be decanted to remove the sediment.
- Full-bodied red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Bordeaux Blends, and Merlot should be decanted for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Decanting young wines may not be necessary since they do not have sediments and are less complex.
- White wines don't typically require decanting, but some complex white wines can benefit from a short decanting period to help release their flavors and aromas.
- Sparkling wines and delicate wines like Pinot Noir should not be decanted.
What Kind Of Decanter
The shape of the decanter is important as it helps to aerate the wine.
- Choose a decanter with a wide mouth and a narrow neck to help release aromas and flavors.
- Avoid using colored glass, as this might affect the taste of the wine.
- Your selection should also be based on the size of your bottle, usually 0.75L.
- A decanter should be able to comfortably hold the entire bottle so that you don't have to worry about pouring out any sediment.
- If you do not have a decanter, you can use any clean glass vessel with a wide mouth.
How To Decant Wine
Decanting wine is a simple process; all you need is a decanter. Here are the steps to follow:
- Place the wine bottle in an upright position for at least 24 hours before decanting. This is to make sure that the sediment settles at the bottom of the bottle.
- Select a clean, glass or crystal decanter that will comfortably hold the entire bottle of wine.
- Remove the foil and cork from the wine bottle.
- Hold the decanter at a slight angle and slowly pour wine into the center of the decanter. Avoiding splashing or spilling. Easy does it.
- Stop pouring when you see sediment approaching the neck of the bottle. Make sure you do not pour the sediments into the container.
- Leave it to rest for about 30 minutes once you have poured the wine, to allow it to breathe and aerate before serving.
- Pour the wine carefully into glasses, avoiding disturbance of any remaining sediment at the bottom of the decanter.
Decanting Wines FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to decant wine:
Do you decant in a fridge?
It is not recommended to decant wine in a fridge. The cooler temperatures can affect the flavor and texture of the wine and can also cause it to oxidize faster. It is best to decant the wine at serving temperature, and it should be served within that day.
Why is white wine not decanted?
White wines typically do not require decanting since they are less complex and generally don’t contain any visible sediments. Additionally, the flavors and aromas of white wine can be easily disturbed by oxygenation, which occurs during decanting.
How long do you decant the wine for?
The length of the decanting process will depend on the type of wine you are decanting. Old red wines with sediment should be left to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, whereas young red wines may not need to be decanted at all.
Can decanting ruin a wine?
Decanting can improve the taste and smell of a wine, but it should be done carefully. If too much oxygen is allowed into a wine, it can cause the flavors to deteriorate quickly and ruin its taste. It is also important to avoid pouring any sediment into the container, as this can affect the taste of the wine.
Can you put decanted wine back in bottle?
Decanted wine can be put back in the bottle. It is important to note that once the wine has been decanted, it should be consumed within that day as it can quickly oxidize and spoil. Do so carefully and slowly to avoid splashing or disturbing the sediment at the bottom of the decanter.
Can you leave wine in a decanter overnight?
It is not recommended to leave wine in a decanter overnight. It is important to note that these wines can quickly oxidize and spoil if left in the decanter for too long.
Should you chill red wine before decanting?
It is not necessary to chill red wine before decanting. It is preferable to decant and serve at serving (or room) temperature as chilling the wine can disrupt the flavor.
If you do decide to chill it, make sure that you leave the bottle to stand for at least an hour so that it has a chance to warm up before you serve, from say, 55°F to 65°F.
Tips & Tricks
- Always save the empty original bottle to show your dinner party guests if they are interested. After all, you are serving them aged, fine wine.
- Do not fill the decanter to the brim.
- Use a white napkin or towel to check for any residual sediment before serving.
- Choose a decanter with a wide mouth for better airflow.
- Do not leave the decanted wine in the open for too long, as over decanting will cause your wine to go flat.
- Decanting is also recommended for vintage ports.
Decanting improves the taste, aroma, and texture of the wine, making it more enjoyable to drink. Now that you know why you should decant wine and when to do it, and how to decant wine like a pro.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you're properly decanting your wine to bring out its full potential.