Decanting wine looks cool. Firstly, there is the carafe, which comes in many different styles and sizes. But besides that, is there actually any point why you would decant your wine? Is it only to impress your guests at the dinner table?
The Wine Junkies did some research and we have the answers here for you. It comes down to two things.
Decanting wine serves two purposes, the first is to separate a wine from any sediment that may have formed. This is mostly for older wines, and most likely to show in wines that are 10 years or older.
You may wonder what the sediment is doing in your bottle of fine wine.
Sometimes it’s just by-products of making wine, such as dead yeast cells, bits of grapes and seeds, tartrates and polymers. In the case of older wine, sediment is caused by phenolic molecules which are combined to form tannin polymers that fall out of the liquid.
Older red wines and vintage ports naturally produce sediment as they age; It’s not harmful, but definitely less enjoyable if it ends up in your glass.
By decanting the wine, you can separate this sediment from the clear wine. It’s fairly safe to assume that a red wine will have accumulated sediment after five to ten years in the bottle, and should be decanted. If you suspect your bottle of wine has sediment and you have kept the bottle lying flat (the case in most cellars) or the bottle was shaken and moved around, we highly recommend you to leave the bottle up straight for about a day before you plan to open the bottle. This allows for the sediments to sink to the bottom of the bottle and will make it much easier for you to separate it from the clear wine.
The second purpose is to aerate a wine in the hope that its aromas and flavours will be more vibrant upon serving.
The question of whether—or how long—to aerate a wine can generate extensive debate among wine professionals. Some feel that an extra boost of oxygen can open up a wine and give it extra life.
A particularly fragile or old wine should only be decanted 30 minutes or so before drinking. A younger, more vigorous, full-bodied red wine can be decanted an hour or more before serving.
Have a look at the video we uploaded to Youtube in which we demonstrate how to aerate a bottle of wine using just a decanter.
There are lots of decanters and accessories on the market to help you decant and aerate your wine. It doesn’t really matter what kind of carafe and accessory you use, just make sure you follow the instructions in the video. There are some very affordable decanters on the market costing just $25 while the fancier ones from Riedel may cost you a few hundred dollars. There are also some really great accessories for sale and they make the process of aerating wine more fun and interesting to see. These will give an extra boost of oxygen to your wine and may be something you want to consider having to even further impress your dining guests…
For practical reasons, The Wine Junkies often decant vintage wine, while on a case-to-case basis we may also decide to decant a wine which we believe is a bit too young and may benefit from some extra oxygen.
Share with us when and if you like to enjoy your wine. Is there any particular wine you would always decant or is there any you would avoid to decant? Share it in the comments below.
John & James
The Wine Junkies