LL Wine Decanting P56

Wine Decanting 101

Decanting wine can be confusing and intimidating. When should you, which wines need it and is it really necessary?

Let’s take the mystery out of the game and make it easier to decide.

Decanting serves two purposes: to separate any sediment and to aerate a wine.

Vintage ports and some red wines naturally produce sediment as they age because the color pigments and tannins bond together. Stirring the sediment when pouring clouds a wine’s appearance and imparts a bitter flavor. It may not be harmful, but it’s definitely less pleasant.

Decanting separates this sediment. After five to 10 years in the bottle, most reds will accumulate sediments. So, even if you can’t see it, decant it.

First, set the bottle upright at least a day if you can so the sediment can slide to the bottom of the bottle. Next, pour the wine into the decanter slowly, without stopping.

When you get to the bottom half of the bottle, stop as soon as you see the sediment. Sediment isn’t always obvious so hold a light up to the neck or use a stainless-steel filter to catch the sediment.

Another reason to decant is to aerate the wine. Some feel that extra boost of oxygen can open up a wine and give it extra life, especially if it’s older than 10 years.

For a young wine, turn the bottle upside down and let it splash into the decanter, producing a frothy head.

While some believe all wine benefits from decanting, those in the opposite camp believe that decanting makes a wine fade faster and wine is exposed to plenty of oxygen by swirling in your glass.

You can decide for yourself. If you’ve opened a wine and it seems flat, it can’t hurt to try decanting to see if it helps.

How long you decant before drinking depends on your wine. For a wine more than 15 years old, less than an hour before drinking should work. A younger, full-bodied red can be decanted an hour or more before serving.

Experts are divided on decanting white wines. Some believe any wine benefits from decanting, even sparkling. Others side on decanting reds only.

A decanter with a simple design is appropriate for young and old wines, but make sure it’s comfortable to hold.

For full-bodied reds like petite sirahs and tempranillos, choose a decanter with a wide base. Medium-bodied reds like a merlot or sangiovese can have a medium base, and light-bodied reds like pinot noir can be served in a small to medium-sized decanter that has been chilled.

Whites and rosé wines usually don’t need to be decanted, but a small, chilled decanter is fine if you like.

If you’re not sure if you need to decant and just want to aerate your wine, there are wine aerators that introduce lots of oxygen, meaning it’s decanted by the time it hits your glass.

Some people even recommend putting your wine in a blender to give it a good aerating, and it works.

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