Have you ever seen somebody pour a freshly opened bottle into a decanter and wondered why they need a fancy container to pour from when the bottle is perfectly good? Well the short answer is this: decanting makes your wine better! Ok, so now that we know we should decant our wines, we encounter the tricky art of knowing how long to decant each type of wine… Let us demystify the decanter and help you to coax your liquid gems to their peak potential.

Red vs. White

It may seem obvious but these are very different animals and so they require very different approaches to preparation. Most white wines do not require decanting and in some instances where the wine is heavily aromatic it can potentially negatively impact the wine. However, full-bodied whites that are earthy do benefit from short decanting of about 30 minutes. Reds require more precision in their decanting method so the following table should help:

You can speed up the decanting process by ‘double decanting’ or pouring the wine back and forth between the decanter and the bottle (or another decanter). Repeat as necessary.Of course there are many varietals and styles not listed, this is a general guideline. However, notice that as the wine gains in body it requires more time in the decanter. Heavier wines need more time, lighter ones need less.

Tricks and Tips to Impress Your Friends:

  • Swirling the decanter also will add more oxygen.
  • Young tannic wines benefit from more decanting but aged wines should really only be filtered for sediment as they have already benefited from the time in the bottle.
  • Try decanting your wine over a light or candle so that the sediment is visible in the neck as you pour. This will give you an opportunity to filter the wine and to see the sediment captured in the bottle rather than our glass.
  • Stainless steel filters can also be used to filter our the sediment and have zero impact on the flavor of the wine.

Are we there yet?

Those with patience will be well-served, but for the eager use these tips to know when the wine is ready to drink.

  • Taste a little – You’ll know immediately if the wine feels flat, lacks flavor or has unidentifiable aromas. This wine is still closed and will need more time. Patience.
  • Try some more – After the recommended time the wine should have adequately opened, revealing its depth and character. Stubborn wines may need more time. Give it 30 min to an hour more.
  • Still not ready – Once the wine is ready you will know it. If after the extra time the wine is still being shy, try one of the other methods like double-decanting, hyper-decanting, or aerating.

Don’t overcook it!

One thing is for sure…decanting cannot be undone. The vinegar-like flavors associated with ‘bad wine’ are from the acetic acid released during the oxygenation of the wine. A little oxygen is good, those chemical reactions open the wine and make it more tasty—that’s why we put it in the decanter in the first place, but too much of anything isn’t a good thing.

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