Decanting is one of those elements of wine service that remains mysterious and intimidating to many drinkers: Which wines need it? When should you do it? And how? Is it really even necessary or just a bit of wine pomp and circumstance?
Decanting wine means slowly pouring the wine from its bottle into a different container, without disturbing the sediment at the bottom. Wine is often decanted into a glass vessel with an easy-pour neck. Decanting is simply the process of separating this sediment from the clear wine and to aerate a wine in the hope that its aromas and flavors will be more vibrant upon serving.
How to do it well?
1.Set the bottle upright for 24 hours or more before drinking, so the sediment can slide to the bottom of the bottle, making it easier to separate.
2. Locate a decanter or other clean, clear vessel from which the wine can easily be poured into glasses.
3. Remove the capsule and cork; wipe the bottle neck clean.
4.Hold a light under the neck of the bottle; a candle or flashlight works well.
5. Pour the wine into the decanter slowly and steadily, without stopping; when you get to the bottom half of the bottle, pour even more slowly.
6.Stop as soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle. Sediment isn’t always chunky and obvious; stop if the wine’s color becomes cloudy or if you see what looks like specks of dust in the neck.
7.The wine is now ready to serve. Discard the remaining ounce or two of sediment-filled liquid in the bottle.
Which Wines Do You Need to Decant?
What Are the Benefits of Decanting Wine?
Decanting has three main benefits:
1. Decanting separates sediment from liquid. Decanting is first and foremost about separating wine from the sediments that settle at the bottom of the bottle. Red wines contain the most sediment, especially older wines and vintage ports, while young white wines contain the least. Sediment is not harmful, but tastes unpleasant.
2. Decanting enhances flavor through aeration. Aeration is the process of introducing oxygen to a liquid. This is also called allowing a wine to “breathe.” Aeration enhances a wine’s flavor by softening the tannins and releasing gases that have developed in the absence of oxygen. Decanting wine allows the flavors and aromas that were dormant while bottled to expand and breathe.
3. Decanting saves wine in the event of a broken cork. Occasionally, a cork may break, dispersing pieces of solid matter you don’t want in your wine glasses. While pouring, the cork will gather near the neck of the bottle as you decant into another vessel (sediment does the same). If the cork disintegrates, use a strainer while decanting to filter out the smaller bits.
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