One term that is surely overused in wine circles is “decanting wine.” But what exactly is it, and why should you care about it?
Let’s talk about that special pit stop between the bottle and your glass – the art of decantation.
What Does it Mean to Decant the Wine?
Decanting wine isn’t about simply pouring it from one container to another; it’s a meticulous process that involves separating the liquid from any sediment that may have settled at the bottom of the bottle. This sediment, while not harmful, can impart undesirable flavors and textures to your wine.
To decant wine properly, you’ll need a decanter—a glass vessel with an easy-pour neck. There are various types and sizes available, from the elegant swan and cornett to the classic duck and standard decanters. The choice of decanter depends on your aesthetic preference and the wine you plan to decant.
The Threefold Benefits of Decanting Wine
Separating Sediment from Liquid
The primary purpose of decanting is to remove sediment from the wine. This is especially crucial for red wines, particularly older ones and vintage ports. Sediment doesn’t harm you, but it can make your wine taste unpleasant.
Enhancing Flavor through Aeration
Aeration, or allowing a wine to “breathe,” is a key aspect of decantation. By introducing oxygen to the wine, decanting softens the tannins and releases trapped gases. This process can awaken the flavors and aromas that were dormant in the bottle, elevating your wine-drinking experience.
Wine Rescue in Case of a Broken Cork
Sometimes, a cork may break, releasing unwanted solid matter into your wine. Decanting can act as a safety net. As you pour the wine into another vessel, both the cork and sediment will gather near the neck of the bottle, making it easier to filter out any small cork fragments.
Which Wines Should Be Decanted?
The good news is that most wines can benefit from at least a brief decantation to promote aeration. However, certain wines reap the most significant rewards from this practice and must be decanted to get the best results, this includes:
Wines That Don’t Need Decanting
The only wines that shouldn’t be decanted are sparkling wines like Champagne. These wines thrive when they maintain their effervescence, which decanting, and aeration can diminish.
Decant the Wine, Step by Step
Now that you’re ready to give decanting a try, here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you do it right:
Preparation: If your wine bottle has been stored horizontally, stand it upright for a full day before decanting. This allows sediment to settle at the bottom.
Opening the Bottle: Use a corkscrew to open your bottle, ensuring you do it with care.
The Pour: Tilt the neck of the bottle toward the decanter and pour the wine slowly. Keep the bottle at an angle of less than 45 degrees to prevent a rush of wine that might disturb the sediment.
Watch for Sediment: Be vigilant for any sediment approaching the bottle’s neck while pouring. If you spot any, stop pouring temporarily, tilt the bottle back upright, and continue once the sediment settles.
Leave a Bit Behind: Finish pouring the wine, leaving about half an ounce in the bottle along with the sediment.
PS: Decanted wine can be enjoyed immediately or within the next 18 hours without concern of over-decanting.
How Long Should You Decant?
When it comes to the timing of decanting, the rule of thumb is to let your wine breathe, but not too much. For red wines, ranging from bold Cabernets to elegant Pinot Noirs, a decanting time of 20 minutes to 2 hours can work wonders, with the duration often dictated by the wine’s style and age.
White and Rosé wines, known for their refreshing qualities, typically benefit from up to 30 minutes of aeration, but it’s always wise to consider the specific conditions. Sparkling wines, those effervescent delights, can also benefit from up to 30 minutes of decanting, under certain circumstances.
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Do not forget to Decant that baby! 🍷⏳
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