How To Decant Wine

Decanting is one of the most important steps between corkage and tasting wine. It is when the wine is slowly poured from a bottle into a different container so as no to disrupt the sediment.

Decanters are usually made from glass and have an easy pour neck. With a variety of different sizes available, there are many different designs depending on what you want including the standard design and the swan and duck to name a few. 

Benefits of decanting wine

Decanting wine brings many benefits to the overall experience. Not only does it make the tasting seem really fancy, but there are also practical and functional benefits that ensure the wine tastes better.

The first benefit is that decanting is a process where any sediments that lay at the bottom of the wine are separated from the wine.

White wines tend to have less sediments as these are extracted during the wine making process whereas sediments are largely found in red wines as they help to provide the enriched flavor during the making process. The sediments won’t harm you but they can add a bitter taste to the wine. 

The second benefit is that the flavor of the wine will be enhanced thanks to the aeration process which takes place as the wine is transferred from bottle to decanter.

Aeration means that oxygen is being introduced to the liquid which softens the tannins as well as releasing any gases that may have developed. It allows the flavors of the wine to breathe and expand. 

The final benefit is that the decanting process can help during instances of broken corks. Corks may break and pieces may fall into the bottle so it’s best to decant immediately as the decanting process should catch those pieces in the same way it does the sediments.

If there are tiny pieces of cork that have disintegrated then use a strainer which will help filter them out. 

Wines that need decanting

The majority of wines can be decanted and in almost all cases, this will improve the flavor and you’ll experience the benefits even if it has been decanted for a short while as this will expose the wine to aeration.

Younger red wines will always need decanting due to the tannins which are more intense and need the aeration. 

There are some wines which should always be decanted which include: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Shiraz. 

Wines that don’t need decanting

The only type of wine that should never be decanted are sparkling wines which include Champagne. This is due to the fact that decanting and aeration reduces the flavor and bounce that they have as they will go flat. 

How to decant wine

So now you know which wines need to be decanted and which ones not to decant, here are instructions on how to actually decant your wine.

Bear in mind that it takes practice to perfect as most techniques do but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

  1. Remove your wine from storage and sit it upright for a day if it has been stored horizontally. This will cause any sediment to gather at the bottom of the bottle. 
  2. Using a corkscrew, open the bottle of wine.
  3. Slightly tilt the neck against the decanter and keep the bottom below 45 degrees to avoid any wine from overspilling quickly which will disturb the sediment. 
  4. Pour the wine slowly into the decanter while also keeping an eye on any sediment that may approach the opening of the bottle. 
  5. If any sediment is creeping towards the opening then tilt the bottle back slowly to an upright position before starting again. 
  6. Leaving around half an ounce of wine with the sediment, finish pouring the wine into the decanter. 
  7. Once done, leave for around four hours before drinking the wine and try to consume it within 18 hours. 

Decanter vs Carafe

Decanters and carafes are both used as vessels for storing wine, however, they do have different purposes. Decanters are shaped to aerate your wine whereas carafes are used only to serve wine so they do not improve or affect the flavor in the same way that decanters do. 

Serving decanted wine

Once the wine has been fully decanted, you want to make sure that you are serving it in the proper way. The traditional way to serve decanted wine is to display the original bottle and cork to your guests so they will know what wine they are drinking.

If there is any wine left, you can pour the wine into the bottle and seal it with the cork to drink at a later date. 

Christina Day
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