Put simply, decanting is pouring the wine from the bottle into another vessel, then serving it from that vessel into each person’s glass. This isn’t just for show—it ensures the wine smells and tastes its best. Here’s why and hot to decant wine.
What is a Decanter and What Does it Do?
Exposure to oxygen brings out the flavors and aromas in a glass of wine. Some red wines, particularly aged or bold red wines, need a little time to relax and show their full potential. Wine bottles have a narrow opening, so even when you uncork the bottle, not much air flows through. Decanters are designed to let air flow. A wide-bottomed decanter will create a shallow pool of wine with a large surface area. This exposes the wine to oxygen more quickly.
Why Decant Wine
Decanting wine brings out the best flavors in robust red wines. It can also help eliminate unwanted aromas, like the burning smell of alcohol. If you’re serving an aged wine, decanting gives you an opportunity to remove any sediment that may have formed in the bottle. As a bonus, decanters are beautiful, and will add an elegant touch to your table.
How to Decant Wine
Start by tasting your wine. Pour a small bit of the wine directly from the bottle into a glass and taste it. If you don’t smell and taste much of anything, that’s a sure sign that decanting is necessary.
Place your clean decanter on the counter, pour the wine slowly into it. If you’re serving an aged wine, stop once you start to see the sediment—that can stay behind in the bottle.
After an hour, take another sip. Do you notice a difference? The wine’s aromas and flavors should already be more obvious.
When to Decant Wine
Decant wines aged over 7 years and bold red wines like California Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Zinfandel. Let wine breathe for about an hour before serving. You can always open a white wine to enjoy while you wait.
Have a bottle that you’re saving for a special occasion? Be sure to store it on it’s side in a cool, dark place.