How many times have you been in a situation where you opened a bottle of wine and a wine expert, or a person who only pretends to be one, has suggested you to decant wine before drinking.
If you’ve hesitated to ask your “wine experts” what does this term really mean, here we bring you the answers.
Decanting wine means transferring the contents of a wine bottle into another receptacle, most often the decanter, whereby wine is being separated from its sediment. Decanting should be done very slowly and carefully so that sediment is not left to mix with wine since it will give the wine a sort of astringent flavour. Simultaneously, decanting causes the wine to mix with oxygen (aeration), enabling it to come to life and it also releases the wine aromas. This process significantly improves characteristics of a wine, i.e. its taste.
Some people may argue that decanting wine is more a matter of ritual or presentation and show, than a proper way of improving quality and ensuring conditions for bringing out the most prominent features of wine.
Anyhow, here are some cases when decanting wine is essential and when it is not.
Decanting older wines can be a good idea, especially when considering that it is the perfect method for removing sediment that must have collected in the bottle. This sediment is created by the natural chemical changes that occur with time and it differs with respect to the sort of wine so it may be tannins that are deposited in the segment or tartaric acid salts as well. Since sediment may leave a bitter taste, decanting is the best way to remove it.
Wines that have spent too much time in a bottle may loose their freshness and can sometimes have heavy and awkward smells. This can be removed through the process of aeration (letting wine breathe) which will open up the wine’s aromas that otherwise would not show.
Decanting is not recommendable if white wines are in question, especially young white wines since this process may cause loosing the wine’s in-depth aromas and flavours these wines are naturally rich with.
We recommend you to leave the bottle of wine you wish to decant to sit in a stand-up position for at least 24 hours so that the sediment can sink to the bottom. Each wine is unique in its need for aeration, i.e. in time required to sit in the decanter before drinking. It varies from several minutes for light aeration of the younger wines up to few hours for mature and full bodied (red) wines.
If you happen to plan a dinner for your friends and have decided to open the bottle from your small family wine cellar, we recommend you to follow our advice that will help you to bring your bottle of wine to life.