Should you decant your wine before serving? In an overwhelming majority of cases, the answer is an emphatic yes. There are many benefits to decanting all types of wine, whether red, white and by some accounts, even sparkling wines like Champagne.
Decanting wine in itself is a rather simple process, one that merely involves pouring your wine in a decanter, or any vessel of your choice. But the challenge lies in knowing how long to decant your wine for. Too long, and your old wine will start to turn brown before you can finish the glass. It is also unclear whether sparkling wines need to decant. On top of this, there are several popular trends that are essentially alternatives to decanting.
Aerators that can be attached to the neck of wine bottles is on the tamer end of suggestions, but some even recommend giving your wine a swirl not just in the glass, but in a blender before that. So what should you do? This article will cover all the relevant details you need to know about decanting the wine. From the proper way to do it, to the precise benefits of doing so, and the various alternatives on offer, we’ll go over all of these topics, and more.
Need a little more help with tips on aerating your wine? Check out “Wine Aeration For Newbies” for more.
Is Decanting Really Worth the Extra Step?
It definitely is.
The list of benefits to be enjoyed from decanting wine is a long one. The historical reason for decanting of wine has been to separate the sediment that accumulates in stored wine, from the liquid. Mixing this sediment with the wine results in a bitter, unsavory taste that can ruin its flavor, and slowly pouring the liquid into another vessel is a good way to separate the two. However, the separation of sediment is just one of the many processes that wine undergoes while decanting. The exposure to oxygen softens the bitter taste of red wines and can bring out the rich aromas that have built up in a wine bottle. Conversely, cheap wines can often smell slightly rotten if stored for a while and decanting wine is the best way to get rid of this inconvenience. For tips on storing your bottle of wine correctly at home, check out “How to Store Wine After Opening“.
Each wine interacts with oxygen in its own unique ways. This depends on how long the wine has been stored for, the composition of the wine itself, and how well it has been corked. But oxidation uniformly helps eliminate sulfites that accumulate in stored wine. Sulfites are artificially added by most winemakers to inhibit the process of oxidation because most corks still leave some room for air to seep in. They are also responsible for the rotten smell we mentioned, and so when the time comes to roll the bottle out, this needs to be dealt with. Alternatively, if the cork somehow disintegrates while you try to remove it, decanting will help you get rid of the floating particles.
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Which Wines Should I Decant, and How?
Red wines that are high in tannin benefit the most from decanting. Expensive, full-bodied white wines also stand to gain despite the lack of sediment buildup in them, but the improvement in sparkling wine is up for debate. Some suggest that decanting Champagne causes it to go flat as the bubbles disappear. Others claim that some sparkling wines have bubbles that are too intense, and decanting these bottles can help calm them before consumption. It might be worth trying it out on cheap sparkling wine to observe any benefit for yourself, but in general, decanting wine can be a highly sensory experience. Regardless of the chemical processes at play, the mere act of decanting can itself improve the taste of wine for both, the server, as well as the guests. Here’s how to do it.
The first step to decant wine efficiently is preparing for it in advance. Keep your bottle in an upright position either overnight, or for a full day to give the sediments enough time to settle. Taste the wine once you uncork it to judge whether it really needs decanting. If it does, make sure to pour the wine very slowly to ensure no sediment gets through. Check out “Wine Dregs and Sediment Explained” for a look at how to take care of your bottle of wine from dregs and sediments. Now that you’ve decanted the wine, here comes the tricky part. How long do you let it rest for? Older wines generally need less than half an hour in a decanter, while younger wines can stand a few hours of being out in the open. However, there is no exact science behind it, and it can often come down to personal judgement.
There are some alternatives to decanting worth considering. If you don’t fancy a decanter, you can also get a portable aerator that greatly accelerates the oxidation rate of wine. This does mean that the dramatic appeal of decantation is lost, but some convenience is gained. One can also try blending their wine. Despite how unnatural it sounds, there is a growing consensus that it might actually improve the texture and flavor of the wine. Regardless of how you choose to aerate your wine, there are undeniable benefits to performing the extra step. Its simplicity is a huge boon, and the charm of the process is another advantage that makes decanting a wholesome part of drinking wine.
Thank you for reading with us today! Let us know in the comments below if you use a decanter when opening your bottle of wine. Also, check out “How to Drink Wine the Correct Way” for more tips on drinking wine the right way.
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