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Deciding When to Decant a wine is really quite easy

Wine Decanting


So why do you want to decant anyway. Well, decanting removes the sediment that forms at the bottom of a bottle of wine (especially older wine) during the aging process. The sediment is the organic bits such as yeast, grape skins, etc. Unless you want to keep spitting them out as you are drinking your glass of wine pretending to know what you are doing, then you want to remove this material. Besides it doesnít taste great. In addition, you want to expose the wine to as much oxygen as possible, let it breathe. This process allows the oxygen to react with the wine to allow the flavors to develop. The more tannin in the wine, the longer you want the wine to breathe. For example, a young Cabernet Sauvignon might require say 1 hour breathing because of the high tannin content. On the other hand, a Pinot Noir with lower tannins will only require 15 to 20 minutes. Older wines, those over 8 years old, but should be decanted because of the sediment and allowed to breathe for a very short period. As a point of information, opening a bottle does not allow enough surface area for it to breathe. Instead, just pour a glass and let it sit there for up to 1 hour, depending on the type of wine. Taste it periodically to decide when YOU think it is right.


Deciding when to decant a wine is really quite easy. Even though there are no absolute rules to tell you which wines to decant, here are three guidelines that should serve you well.





Well, now that you decided to decant, you need to know how to do it. Obviously you either have a bottle of vintage wine that contains sediment or youíre throwing a dinner party and you want to look really cool even though you have no idea what you are doing and the teenage clerk at the liquor store swayed you toward this bottle of French Bordeaux. Itís OK, but letís hope that your guests know less about wine than you do. You will need a decanter and perhaps a candle. The first thing you need to do is to take off all of the foil at the top of the bottle and not just the upper portion of the foil as you normally do. This is so you can view the sediment to prevent pouring it into your decanter. Open the wine. In case you havenít noticed by now, red wine comes in a dark bottle to inhibit light from negatively affecting the wine. Unfortunately, the dark bottle also makes it difficult to see the sediment when it enters the neck of the bottle as you are pouring the wine into the decanter. Now hereís where the candle comes in. You can use it to illuminate the bottle sufficiently so you can see what you are doing. You can use a candleholder or a good friend to hold the candle. A flashlight will work just as well, but a candle looks much cooler. Hold the candle below the neck so as not to heat the wine, tip the opening of the decanter if it is not already at an angle of say 45į and pour the wine slowly into the decanter. Stop pouring when you see the sediment at the neck of the bottle. You should only have a little wine left in the bottle assuming that you didnít shake the wine before decanting. Now donít be alarmed if you do this ritual and there is no sediment in the bottle. Perhaps you should have checked the bottom of the bottle in the first place. Wine producers often filter the wines before they are bottled. The sediment is not a bad thing.


If however, you are decanting a young red for the purposes of maximizing oxygen to mitigate tannins and mellow out the wine, then you want to pour the wine briskly into the decanter to allow more contact with the air. Donít spill any on the table Ė that wonít look very good. You obviously donít need the candle since there will be no sediment.