Wine Tasting Club – Decanting

By / Wine + Drinks / August 7th, 2009 / 2

It’s a topic that can raise the hackles of even the most sedate wine lover. Is decanting a bottle of wine necessary, or is it all hot air?

The argument is based on whether or not wine should be left to breathe so that the full flavour and bouquet are maximized. Breathing happens when the wine comes into contact with air. The jury’s still out on whether or not decanting actually does what it’s purported to do, but there are a lot of people on both sides of the fence that will claim to be right. With older wines, you do run the risk that too much air can cause the bouquet and flavour to fade.

Most wine experts tend to stay the middle course. Allow an old wine very little contact with air and a younger wine much more. Perhaps it’s not the most helpful advice, but it is the closest we can get to a hard and fast rule. As a general guideline, pop the cork on an older wine up to half an hour before you pour. With younger wines (red or white) you can decant a good two hours ahead of time.

Aeration is only part of the picture. Decanting serves another, more important purpose. It removes the sediment from the wine. Many high quality wine makers around the world no longer bother to filter the wines they produce. The leftover sediment continues to add complexity to the wine as it matures in the bottle, but those bitter-tasting remants of the wine-making process are not something anyone would enjoy chewing on.

two-step decanting:

1. Start by standing the bottle upright a day or two before you plan on serving it. The sediment will gradually float to the bottom.

2. Pull the cork and pour the wine slowly into a decanter bottle. Keep a close eye on the wine as you reach the end. The trick is to stop pouring before the sediment has a chance to flow into the decanter.

Pour the wine into your glass and enjoy! Next Month: Storing Wine


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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