Breathe Flavor Into Your Wine
One of the best parts of drinking wine is experiencing the complex layers of flavors in each sip. To appreciate your wine and take in its full potential, you may consider decanting your next bottle of wine. Don’t worry. Although decanting sounds complicated, it’s a very simple process! Learn more about decanting wine, how to do it properly, and which wines benefit most from being properly decanted.
What is Decanting Wine?
Decanting wine is the act of pouring wine slowly from its original bottle into a large glass decanter. Aside from letting you serve wine from a stylish vessel, the two primary reasons for decanting wine: removing sediment and allowing the wine to aerate.
Sediment buildup is common in older red wines, and it is a natural process. While sediment is harmless and expected in some bottles of wine, it has an unpleasant, bitter taste that can take away from the flavors that you would rather experience in a glass of wine.
Aerating wine, also known as allowing a wine to breathe, is the magic that brings out all of the delicious notes and aromas from a bottle. It also lets volatile sulfites and ethanol escape the wine, leaving you with pleasant flavors and aromas and nothing to interfere with them. Although you may hear the terms “decanting” and “aerating” used interchangeably, aeration is a separate process that occurs after decanting.
Decanting is best done up to four hours before drinking wine; however, many wines only need 15 to 20 minutes to benefit from decanting. Even a short decanting period can make a good wine drink like a great wine.
How to Decant Wine
While it sounds quite fancy, decanting wine is simple and straightforward. Plus, it’s an easy way to impress any guests you might have over! Here are a few steps to decant your wine:
Make sure your bottle of wine is standing upright. If you’ve been storing the wine horizontally, let it stand for 24-48 hours to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom.
Uncork your bottle of wine.
Slowly pour the wine into the decanter, not tipping the bottle at more than a 45-degree angle. Be careful to keep sediment away from the neck of the bottle. Leave a small amount of wine (approximately half an ounce) in the bottle to ensure you pour as little sediment as possible.
Allow the wine to sit in the decanter for at least 20 minutes.
Pour the wine from the decanter into a glass and enjoy!
Which Wines Should You Decant?
Wines that benefit most from decanting include young, tannic reds, aged reds with visible sediment, full-bodied whites, and vintage ports. If you’re looking to get the fullest flavor experience from a bottle of Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Burgundy, decanting is a must!
Decanter vs. Carafe
Before we wrap up this discussion, we want to make one thing abundantly clear: decanters and carafes are not the same. Decanters are designed specifically to maximize aeration in wine, while carafes are just pretty containers that offer a better presentation. If you have an aged Sauvignon Blanc that needs to look good on the table, a carafe will do just fine. But if you have a bold Cab that needs to breathe, go with the decanter. Your tastebuds will thank you!
Decanting is an easy way to enhance the flavor of your wine and bring it to its full, aromatic potential. Plus, it will add a little style to your presentation and make you look wine-smart in front of your friends, so it’s a win-win!
If you’re in the middle of a dinner party and decide to open another bottle for the group, waiting for a bottle to decant may not be ideal. Aerate the wine while you pour by using a wine aerator!
There are various versions of wine aerator tools on the market, from those that fit directly into the neck of the bottle (also referred to as “wine pourers”), to handheld aerators held over each glass to pour wine through, and even electric wine aerators that plunge deep into the bottle to pull wine up through the aerator and dispense into your waiting glass.
Most wine aerators are fairly simple to use, and can instantly transform your Monday evening glass of wine into something even more extraordinary.