If only there was an inexpensive way to maximise the flavour from a bottle of wine that guarantees you get bang for your buck every time…
Well there is and maybe it’s a step in the process that you’ve been overlooking. It sits directly between opening the bottle and pouring into a glass and it’s called decanting.
What is Decanting?
Decanting simply means pouring the wine from one container into another. In this case from the bottle into a glass vessel called a decanter.
Why do we do decant?
There are many benefits to decanting. It allows for the removal of any sediments that have settled inside the bottle. Older red wines are the most prone to sediment. Sediment, while completely harmless can sometimes taste unpleasant.
Decanting also allows the removal fragments of broken cork from a bottle opening that didn’t go to plan.
It enhances flavour through aeration/oxygenation. This has the effect of softening tannins, especially in younger wines. To put it simply, aeration is the process of allowing a wine to breathe.
Decanters aerate in two ways:
1. Pouring wine slowly into a decanter adds oxygen. This can be done by pouring directly into a decanter or through an aerator.
2. Decanters by their very shape expose a greater surface area of wine to air than wine resting in an open bottle.
What/When to decant?
Decanting is rarely bad for a wine but how long you decant will generally depend on the age of the wine. Younger reds will usually benefit from a longer decanting to allow the sometimes harsh tannins to soften. Older reds will benefit from the sediment removal aspect of the process and can sometimes be served straight after decanting.
What about White?
Not only can decanting not hurt white wines, it can actually help. Like reds, white wines can benefit from aeration to open up flavours sometimes tightly concealed when serving directly from the bottle. Decanting a white also allows the manipulation of temperature – bringing it up by just a few degrees can expose flavours that are often masked by serving the wine too cold. Smaller decanters are more suitable for white wines as they don’t need as much surface area exposed to air – the simple act of pouring is sufficient.
What not to decant?
Sparkling wines, Champagne and Prosecco will usually not be benefit from decanting. There are some varieties of these wines that can benefit from decanting however in general the process can result in the removal of fizz and result in a flatter taste.
The golden rule of decanting is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to try it! Vary the times until you find something that works for you and for the wine. Try 20 mins, 40 mins etc. with the same wine until you find the perfect time for you!
Over-decanting is not something to worry about, however try to recork the wine if not consumed within 18 hours.
To view our range of Decanters and Aerators visit Winelover.ie/shop