Decanting: The Basics
When to decant? For how long? What to use? So many questions, so many opinions – my head is spinning! Then, we got STUCK-IN, and decided to take a deep dive into the topic...
Dave dos Santos
To decant………? or not to decant……….. Prometheus?
In this article, we’re going to focus on decanting and young wine. We’ll explore how decanting can improve the taste of young wines, and the advantages of different methods.
Let’s start with the WHY and WHEN?
Traditionally, there 3 MAIN REASONS to decant wine:
Old wine and some big young wines can develop sedimentation, which is unappealing and tastes bitter. During this step, we carefully remove the sediment
Aeration is exposing as much of the wine as possible to open air.
This refers to the process of releasing bad odors and flavors, primarily caused by sulfur compounds, but can also occur with many other off flavors.
The second and third reasons can be combined and defined slightly differently, and a more accepted term slapped on it – letting the wine breath.
Decanting: Young Wine
Many wines are produced with the intention that they be consumed while they’re young.
Young wine can benefit from aeration.
All you need is a wide-bottomed decanter and your bottle of wine.
Carefully pour the open bottle of wine into the wide-bottomed decanter.
Allow to *stand in a cool place, out of sunlight.
*How long you allow the wine to sit depends on the type of wine you are decanting. See Time Guide below
- Zinfandel: 30 minutes
- Pinot Noir: 30 minutes
- Malbec: 1 hour
- Grenache/Garnacha (such as Cotes du Rhone and Priorat): 1 hour
- Petit Syrah: 2 hours
- Tempranillo: 2 hours
- Sangiovese: 2 hours
- Syrah/Shiraz: 2-3 hours
- Nebbiolo (Barolo, Barbaresco): 3 + hours
Decanting: Old Wine
In our opinion, anyone who calls or considers themselves a wine semi-pro should have an understanding of how to decant an old wine- Trust us there’s nothing more graceful or satisfying!
What You Need to Get Started
- The bottle of wine – stored up right for 24 hours
- A narrow base decanter – which will limit the wine’s exposure to the air
- A strong light source, such as a candle or flashlight
- A decanting cradle – not needed, but helpful
Removing the sediment with minimal O2 exposure:
Open the bottle carefully—try to avoid disturbing the sedimentation that has collected at the bottom of the bottle.
The decanting cradle can be used to assist with the pouring and will allow you to have better control over the pouring.
Carefully and slowly start pouring the wine into the decanter, with the light source placed under the bottle’s shoulder.
*The sediment should start collecting in the shoulder of the bottle.
*Pouring should be halted if sediment starts to spill into the neck of the bottle. The light source will illuminate the shoulder and allow you to see the sedimentation collected in the shoulder
What is accepted (and we wholly agree), is that old wine or delicate wine should not be exposed to too much O2.
There’s a type of sheer cliff effect, where the wine will just fall off the cliff and spoil.
For these wines, decanting should be limited to separating wine from sediment.
Aerating pourers are devices that are inserted into the bottle with the promise of aerating the wine as you pour without having to use a decanter.
Aerating Pourer in Action
As the wine is poured, O2 is pulled into the device and combines with the wine, aerating the wine during the pour.
Free Standing Aeration Device
Free-standing aerating devices work in the same way as the pourers except these devices are slightly larger and have the capacity to draw more air into the wine.
And finally, this method is even more controversial than whether or not the earth is flat. The basic premise is to use a blender in order to speed up aeration time, and it has stirred up quite the controversy in the wine world.
For more info on HYPERDECANTING click the link below!