What is Decanting Wine?
Decanting wine is a process of slowly pouring an entire bottle of wine into a different container. Decanting wine helps to aerate the wine. The key to proper decanting is to pour slowly so you do not disturb the sediment that is in the bottom of the bottle. Typically, this container is a glass decanter that has an easy to pour neck. Decanters come in small, medium and large sizes ranging from simple styles to very fancy decorative pieces. The most common are Standard, Swan, Duck, or Cornett decanters.
What Types of Wines Should I Decant?
Almost any kind of wine will benefit from decanting. The process of aeration makes wine taste fruitier and smoother. Strong red wines and young wines have intense tannins and need to be decanted. Bordeaux, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec wines should definitely be decanted. Sparkling wines, like champagne, should not be decanted as it will get rid of the bubbles and go flat.
Is Decanting Wine Worth it?
Keep in mind that wine spends a long time inside of a bottle and is not exposed to oxygen. When you decant a wine, you release the pent up gasses which softens the tannins. By allowing the wine to breathe, as well as exposing wine to fresh air will enhance the flavors each wine offers. This is often referred to as aerating the wine.
Decanting is all about separating the wine from the sediments that settle at the bottom of the bottle. Red wines, vintage ports, and older wines have the most sediment and will benefit from decanting. Newer white wines have the least. Sediment is not bad for you, but it does not have the best taste.
How Long Should I Decant Wine?
Red wines, such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Zinfandel, and Grenache should breathe anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours when decanting. Lighter bodied red wines will only need 20-30 minutes.
Medium bodied wines like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Barbera, Malbec, or Tempranillo should be decanted 20 to 60 minutes.
Finally, full bodied wines including Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, and Monastrell will need 1-2 hours to decant.
At the bare minimum, red wines need at least 15 minutes to breathe. Tack on an additional 15-30 minutes to help the sharp aromas become milder. Once the wine decants for 60 minutes, the tannins become less intense.
Most white wines and rosés do not need to be decanted.
Wine Aerator vs Wine Decanter
While decanting wine is a slow and gentle process that separates the sediment from the wine, aerating is just the opposite. Aerating is the process of aggressively and quickly adding oxygen to the wine by forcing it through an aerator. This will instantly activate the aroma and flavors of the wine.
Decanting and aerating serve the same purpose. Each helps to release the flavors and aroma in the wine. The only difference is the time you have to complete the process. If you are having a quick glass of wine or are on the road, then an aerator is great to use. If you are leisurely drinking wine and have time to enjoy the full experience, then decanting is for you. Cheers!
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