Decanting Wine: Why & How to Decant Wine

how to use a wine decanter
It’s all about surface area

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.

Side note…
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.

Try this at home! Order your own wide-bottomed decanter here. It’s even dishwasher safe!

Easy Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

thanksgiving wine pairing
These wine parings will make your turkey taste even better

As soon as you have your Thanksgiving menu figured out, it’s time to start thinking about the wine. Wether you’re planning to have one glass for a toast, or to fill the table with multiple bottles, this easy guide to Thanksgiving wine pairing will make your meal taste even better.

A Guide to Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

There are a lot of different flavors on a Thanksgiving table. There are rich and buttery mashed potatoes, tart cranberries, and sugary sweet potatoes. Finding one wine to go with all of those dishes can be complicated. The best place to start is by thinking about your (and your guests’) preferences. Depending on which element of the meal you’re focused on, there are multiple red and white wine pairing that could work. If you know what you like, you can narrow it down a bit.

If you want to take the work out of this process, Blue Apron has put together a bundle of our Holiday Feast Favorites.

white and red wine for thanksgiving

White Wines for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is a very flavorful meal. That’s an important thing to keep in mind when picking your Thanksgiving wine pairing. Some white wines are very light and delicate. While they may pair nicely with fish and vegetables, they would be overpowered by the food on turkey day. Look for a rich and creamy white that will stand up to the flavors in those mashed potatoes. Here are a few wines to look for:

Best All Around White Wine for Thanksgiving: Chenin Blanc

Chenin blanc is an extremely versatile wine. Depending on how it’s made in can be sweet or dry, subtle or exploding with fruit. A dry Chenin Blanc will be at home on your Thanksgiving table if you’re a big fan of Turkey. The delicate fruit will complement light and dark meat perfectly.

Best White Wine for Mashed Potatoes: Chardonnay

If mashed potatoes are your favorite dish, consider pairing with Chardonnay. Chardonnay has a rich and buttery flavor of its own, and will play nicely with your creamy spuds.

Best White Wine for Vegetables: Sauvignon Blanc

A refreshing Sauvignon Blanc will enhance the bright herbaceous notes in roasted Brussels sprouts and other vegetable side dishes. 

Red Wines for Thanksgiving

Best All-Around Red Wine for Thanksgiving

A fruity, medium-bodied wine like Grenache is versatile and can stand up to a variety of flavors and spices without being too overpowering.

Best Red Wine for Turkey: Pinot Noir

If you like spooning cranberry sauce onto your turkey, this is for you. The ripe red fruit in a good pinot noir (like the one in the Blue Apron Holiday Favorites wine bundle) will add a little zing to your whole meal.

Best Red Wine for Sweet Potatoes: Zinfandel

A bottle of zinfandel has almost as many flavors as a Thanksgiving dinner. Drink this if you’re the type of diner who doesn’t really mind if your food touches. This big, luscious, fruit wine will stand up to just about anything on the table, and work especially well with sweet potatoes.

The Art and Science of Wine

Sometimes, career paths take unexpected turns. Dawna Darjean Jones loves science, but after several years of working in research, she learned she didn’t want to spend her life in a lab. Her journey to winemaking took her through multiple states, and to the highest rungs of education. Her goal was to find a career that challenged and excited her, introduced her to new people, and worked for her family. Today, she’s accomplished all of that, and created some delicious new wines in the process. Read about her journey, and then find her Chenin Blanc and a robust rosé on the Blue Apron Market.

Dawna Darjean Jones in the blending room
Dawna Darjean Jones at work

Q How did you ultimately choose winemaking as a career? 

A When my family relocated to Texas, it was time for me to make a career change. I wanted to find something that made me feel just as my last job in National Security did. The only thing that I kept coming back to was wine. I had spent time on vineyards doing research, and I loved it there. I felt free, the air was clean, the sunshine was good for me, and I loved meeting the people. I missed California, and I wanted to be part of that again, even though I was moving to Texas. Things fell together when I figured out a way to balance traveling back and forth to California while primarily living in Texas with my family. 

Q What’s your favorite part of your job? 

A My favorite part of the job is harvest, and the smell of fermentation. I can’t get past that smell, it was one of the things that drew me into winemaking. I got my first whiff of fermenting wine in 2010, the year my daughter was born. I simply fell in love with the aroma of fermenting wine while I was pregnant with her. I think I loved it so much because all I could do at that time was smell wine! To this day, I still love that smell. It signifies the beginning. Fermentation is the beginning of everything for wine. 

Q How would you describe your approach to winemaking?

A I wish I could say winemaking was just about understanding science, but there is a lot of art there, too. My wines are inspired by tradition, but not bound by it. When I blend a wine, I like to really taste each component individually, and think about what would enhance it. I want to make wines that you’d be happy drinking on their own, long after you’ve finished dinner. My wines are something both a connoisseur and a novice would enjoy. 

“If I can encourage another generation of winemakers, then my purpose is served.”

— Dawna Darjean Jones

Q:  What impact would you like to have on the wine world?

A I want to feel like I’m opening up the wine world to those for whom it has been invisible. It’s really fulfilling to feel like you’re passing the torch to someone else. I feel like I have passed the torch by generating some interest—especially for minorities and women. For African Americans, winemaking isn’t traditionally a field that people think about going into, or even consider as an option. Since beginning my wine career, so many young women have reached out to me to ask how I got here. I do my best to answer them, because I want them to understand what’s possible. There are a lot of young women who now think about winemaking as a valid scientific career option. 

What to Do with Frozen Wine

not yet frozen wine

One of the fastest ways to chill wine is by wrapping it in a damp towel and sticking it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It’s the perfect way to cool a bottle of white or rosé quickly, unless you forget to set a timer. If that 30 minutes turns into an entire evening, you’ll end up with a bottle of ice. Here’s what to do with accidentally frozen wine. 

What Happens When Wine Freezes 

Alcohol and water have different freezing temperatures. As the temperature of your bottle drops lower and lower, the water will begin to freeze, but the alcohol will separate and remain liquid. If your bottle of wine is only partially frozen, don’t drink the liquid portion: it will have a stronger alcohol concentration! 

Water expands as it freezes. As ice crystals form, the pressure from the expansion could begin to force the cork out of the bottle, or cause it to crack. This might expose the bottle to oxygen. For this reason, it’s best to use a thawed out bottle of wine within a few days. 

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How to Use Frozen Wine 

The good news is that frozen wine isn’t ruined. Once the bottle has thawed, it’s still perfectly good for cooking or drinking. Just thaw it out in the refrigerator and drink it within a few days. 

Frozen Wine Does Not Equal Frosé 


Frosé is a slushie made with rosé, fruits, and sometimes liqueurs. In bars, frosé is made by agitating the ingredients in a slushie machine while chilling. This agitation prevents large ice crystals from forming. Wine frozen in a bottle will form large ice crystals, and won’t be pleasant to drink in a partially frozen form. If you want to make frosé with your frozen wine, start by letting it thaw completely. Then, pour it into a shallow dish, freeze for several hours, and blend with your choice of flavorings following this technique.

Looking for the perfect bottle to chill in the freezer? The Blue Apron market has all the red, white, and rosé that you need.

How to Store Wine and Prevent Damage

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The classic advice for how to store wine is this: keep your bottle on its side in a cool dark place. Why is this the key to keeping bottles safe? To prevent damage, unopened wine should be kept away from light, heat, and oxygen. Using the above method to store wine protects your bottles from all of those elements at once. Here’s how it works. 

Why cool? 

Prevent heat damage in wine

If wine is exposed to too much heat, it will effectively cook. This process is known as “maderization.” Maderized wines will taste more like raisins and almonds than ripe fruit. While these flavors might be appealing when they’re intentionally created in a dessert wine (like a Madeira), they’ll be off-putting in your dry table red. 

Prevent cold damage

Have you ever attempted to quickly chill a bottle of wine in the freezer, only to wake up the next morning and find a frozen bottle? We’ve all been there. Extreme cold, either from a freezer or an over-achieving fridge, can result in wine damage. 

Liquids expand as they freeze. In a bottle of wine, the pressure created by this expansion will begin to force the cork out of the bottle, effectively opening the wine. This exposes the wine to oxygen, meaning it will begin to spoil. 

In addition to cork damage, freezing will separate the water from the alcohol and other elements of wine. While water freezes at -32ºF, pure alcohol freezes at -173ºF. That means that as the water solidifies, the alcohol remains liquid on top. Likewise, the proteins and acids in wine will not freeze, and will be forced together. This process can cause the acids to crystalize and form sediment. 

Frozen wine isn’t spoiled, but it will lose a bit of its original character. This wine would still be great for cooking

open white wine

Why Dark?

Prevent light damage

Direct sunlight can easily damage wine, especially if it’s in a clear bottle. This condition is called “light strike,” and it occurs when the sun’s UV rays activate naturally-occuring acids in the wine. The UV rays catalyze a reaction that creates an off-putting, sulfurous smell. This wine is spoiled.   

Why on its side? 

Prevent oxygen damage

Oxygen and wine have a complicated relationship. Oxygen is what causes wine to age and mature. Corks are naturally porous, and their ability to slowly introduce oxygen over time allows wines to continue to develop once bottled. 

Oxidized flavors in wine aren’t inherently bad. Some wines, like many sherries, are intentionally aged with oxygen while they age to bring out nutty flavors. In those cases, oxidation is wonderful. However, if the cork is compromised, or an open wine is stored incorrectly, a wine can oxidize in the wrong way. This will change the flavor of a normally bright, juicy, and fruit wine into a mellow and nutty wine.

This type of cork damage can occur when a wine is stored standing upright for an extended period of time. Improper storage will cause the cork to dry out and crack, exposing the wine to oxygen. Storing wine on its side means that the liquid in the bottle will come into contact with the cork, keeping the hydrated and the wine safe. 

Prevent breakage 

This one is a little bit obvious, but wine bottles are glass, and they can break. Wine stored on a rack on its side can’t be easily tipped over and broken. Avoid recklessly stacking bottles, and if you’re going to store several bottles on a shelf, make sure it is anchored to the wall and can hold the weight.  

How to store open wine 

Once you’ve opened a bottle, you can forget about these rules. First, re-cork your open bottle to minimize oxygen exposure. Then just store open red wine or open white wine in the refrigerator for up to one week.  


Tip: Don’t store wine above your fridge! Refrigerators expel heat, and bottles stored on top of a refrigerator are at risk for heat damage.

Need to stock up? Order wine delivered to your home today.

The Best Red Wines to Pair with Meat

Summer is awash with pretty rosés, but sometimes nothing but a red will do. If you’re grilling a beautiful piece of meat, a red wine is your best bet. Rich, smoky grilled meats can overpower white or rosé wines. The right bottle of red will enhance the flavors of the grill and refresh your palate during dinner. These are the best red wines to pair with meat. 

red wine with meat
Red wine with steak and vegetables

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic red wine to drink with rich red meats. High-tannin wines like Cabernet Sauvignon create a drying sensation in the mouth. One sip and you can feel the wine gripping the inside of your cheeks. When consumed alongside red meat, like a steak or a burger, this drying sensation will act as a palate cleanser, perfectly balancing out the mouth-coating richness of the meat. These wines will be full of dark fruit flavors like black cherry and currant, often accompanied by a touch of cedar from the barrel-aging process. 

Try our Le P’tit Paysan Cabernet Sauvignon 

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a truly versatile wine. Bright fruits like cherry and raspberry are backed up with an earthy mushroom quality and hints of baking spice that come from aging in oak. This light wine can be at home beside a roasted chicken, a grilled burger, or a lean preparation of beef. With a little ketchup, Pinot Noir could even do well alongside a grilled hot dog. 

Try our Anthesis Pinot Noir

Gamay 

Gamay yields a light red wine with tart red fruit and mellow tannins. This thin-skinned grape will bring a little fruity energy to lighter meats like chicken and duck, or a hearty preparation of salmon. Gamay often has a pleasant amount of earthy flavors that can serve as a delicious complement to game meats like rabbit or pheasant. 

Try our Vignobles Bulliat Gamay

Zinfandel

Taking a sip of Zinfandel feels like eating an everlasting gobstopper. These wines are packed with layers and layers of flavor that will reveal themselves with each sip. Zinfandel can have notes of tart red fruit like a ripe raspberry, ripe dark fruit like a black plum, and even cooked fruit like an apricot jam. All of this is topped off with warm spice and oak aromas like cinnamon, anise, vanilla, and coffee. It’s a lot to fit in one glass! Their intense fruit profile makes Zinfandels an excellent match for sweet, smoky barbecue, or Moroccan dishes that marry fruit and meat. 

Try our Leaf and Vine Zinfandel Petite Sirah blend

Want to try them all? Find these red wines and more in the Red Meat Reds sample pack.

Why Is Rosé Pink?

There are a lot of reasons to love rosé; the ripe fruit flavors, the food-friendly acidity, and of course, the beautiful color. But how, exactly, does that beautiful color come to be? Why is rose pink?

why rose is pink
brick & mortar rosé for Blue Apron

Rosé is often described as halfway between a red and a white wine, but this is meant to describe the intensity of the wine, not the production method. Although they’re light in color, rosés are made from 100% red grapes. Some of the most popular grapes for making rosé are Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah. The difference between a red pinot noir and a rosé Pinot Noir comes down to the grape skins. 

When making a wine, grapes are pressed to release their juices. For a red or a rosé, the grape skins and juices are left to sit together. This process, called maceration, gives the grape juice time to extract color and tannins from the grape skin. For a red wine, the skins are left to sit with the juices for at least three (but sometimes up to 100) days. For rosé wine, the maceration period can be as short as several hours. This short resting time means that the skins only release some of their pigmentation and tannins, resulting in a lightly structured wine. 

Rosés are different from blush wines, which are made by combining red and white wines after they have been fermented. One exception to this rule is rosé Champagne. While some rosé Champagnes are made using the maceration method, many are produced by adding still red wine to sparkling wine after the fermentation is completed. 

pink wine
Rosé wine

When it comes to color variation within rosés, it is primarily caused by production method and grape variety. Regardless of color, the light structure and refreshing flavor make rosés a perfect pairing for summery meals like this snap pea salad. They have enough complexity to stand up to some spice, but are subtle enough not to overwhelm delicate seafood. 

See for yourself with a blended rosé from Blue Apron

Holiday Wine Planning Made Easy

Pick the right wines for every holiday gift or gathering.

December blog imageFrom thank-you gifts to office parties to gatherings of friends and family (complete with reindeer-antler headbands), ’tis the season to uncork lots and lots of wine bottles. With this handy guide, you’ll get the appropriate reds and whites for each occasion.

shutterstock_256019860Easy, Affordable Gifts

Strategy: Get great value by purchasing a case (12 bottles) of wine and dividing it up as thank-you gifts for coworkers, friends, the handyman who fixed that leaky pipe, you name it.
Reds: The 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau, which was bottled and released just before Thanksgiving.
White: Sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava, often $12 or less per bottle.

shutterstock_203356084Special Gifts

Strategy: Make the recipient feel special at the moment the bottle is unwrapped. Best of all, it’s memorable long after it’s been uncorked—perhaps years from now.
Reds: Bordeaux, from France, and Barolo and Brunello di Montelcino, from Italy, are all known to improve over time. Prices start at about $70.
Whites: Vintage Champagne (a year appears on the label), German Rieslings and white Burgundies (made of Chardonnay) are among the world’s most coveted white wines. Minimum price will be about $50.

shutterstock_390718216Office Holiday Party

Strategy: Keep the focus on chatting, reconnecting and reminiscing with flavorful wines that stand up to hearty, winter-season fare but also drink well on their own—just as fruity, spicy cocktails typically do.
Reds: Bone-warming, palate-coating Zinfandel or Syrah.
Whites: Versatile, crowd-pleasing wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.

shutterstock_521166691Family Holiday Dinner

Strategy: Minimize the fuss of wine selection, yet still demonstrate that you put some thought and effort into picking wines you wouldn’t uncork on an ordinary weeknight.
Reds: Get two: a fruity and concentrated red that complements rich holiday foods, such as a Rioja (made of the Grenache grape), from Spain; also serve a Port to pair with dessert and end dinner on a high note.
White: A lush and fruity white, such as a Chardonnay or Viognier, that has the heft to stand up to everything on the table—even dessert.

shutterstock_379543003Gathering Among Friends

Strategy: Make it all about the party, not the wine. That means it should be good enough for everyone to drink, but not so good that it’s the subject of discussion.
Reds: A cheerful party pour, such as a California Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot Noir—varieties everyone’s likely to be familiar with.
White: Get two: a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Cava, and a quaffable white from Spain, such as a fruity Albariño.

 

Sign up for Blue Apron Wine and save on your first order! Click here.

Explore a World of Pinot Noir

The grape presents a different style of wine everywhere it’s grown—which is why it’s beloved.

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Great wines may be memorable, but great Pinot Noirs are unforgettable.

This is because—wine nerds generally agree—Pinot is best at capturing the essence of the place and season in which the grapes grew. Try a Pinot made of grapes from a vineyard planted on one side of a road and it’ll smell and taste distinct from the wine made on the opposite side. Not better or worse, just different expressions of similar times and places—like a director’s films or an author’s books.

That’s why exploring Pinots from around the world is so delightful: There’s always a new deliciousness to discover—whether it’s from one region to another, or just across the street.

Burgundy, France

shutterstock_733587316 (1)What Pearl Jam is to Seattle, Pinot Noir is to Burgundy. Burgundy reds, all Pinot Noirs, are beloved for their perfect balance of bright, red-fruit flavors and an earthy, mushroomy character.

For centuries monks grew Pinot throughout the region and carefully assessed the soil composition, sun exposure, vine health and wine quality of each plot of land. The village-by-village classification of the vineyards they developed is still adhered to today.

 

 

 

California

shutterstock_108960833 (1)California’s top Pinot spots are Sonoma and Santa Barbara. They’re 400 miles apart, but the climates are similar: warm days with cool, Pacific-influenced evenings (ideal growing conditions). Both Pinots have concentrated red- and black-fruit flavors; however you’ll find darker, richer wines in Santa Barbara.

Fun fact: Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder’s favorite wine is a Sonoma Pinot Noir.

 

New Zealand

new zealandAll the wine regions grow Pinot Noir, particularly in the cooler areas. The most acclaimed wines come from Martinborough, on the North Island, and from Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island. Central Otago Pinots are the darkest and richest, but all New Zealand Pinot Noirs are lauded for their melding of intense, bright fruit flavors with a savory, herbal note.

 

 

Oregon

OregonThe Pinot-vineyard-packed Willamette Valley extends south from Portland about 100 miles. Oregon Pinots vary from light and bright to dark and rich, but as a whole they are considered the most Burgundy-like in the New World. That’s why so many French winemakers moved to Oregon to make wine.

 

 

Sign up for Blue Apron Wine and save on your first order! Click here.

Drink Up Some Knowledge

Follow these tips for setting up a fun, informative wine-tasting party.

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Before your guests arrive:

  • – Make sure each person has two glasses. Also provide a vessel into which anyone can tip out wine they don’t care to finish.

  • – Provide food. Your friends deserve at least a simple spread of charcuterie, bread and cheese, right? (It’s also helpful to taste wines with and without food.)

  • – Don’t make it serious by providing paper and pencils for jotting tasting notes. Just snap photos of the wine labels so everyone can remember which wines they liked—and didn’t.

Taste the wines in pairs
Urge everyone to be honest about the aromas and flavors they identify, no matter how weird they sound (from “asparagus” to “dirty socks,” every description should be welcome). And don’t be afraid to tell the group if you don’t enjoy a particular wine—friends, after all, are people you should be comfortable disagreeing with openly. Just following the consensus is no way to learn about your likes and dislikes—and it makes for a quick, relatively boring evening if everyone agrees all the time.

Most importantly, just enjoy yourself!

1. Compare
Serve two wines made from the same grape but from different places. For example: a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Sancerre (also made from Sauvignon Blanc) from France’s Loire Valley. Does one taste fruitier, the other grassier? Does one taste better with food, and the other better on its own? Which wine you prefer may indicate whether you’re old-school (Sancerre) or too cool for school (Sauvignon Blanc).

2. Contrast
Pour wines that are as different as possible, like an oaky California Chardonnay and a sweet German Riesling. Be sure to eat some food with the wines here, too. Especially after the comparative tasting, you’ll see how vastly different wines can enhance the flavors of the food you’ve served—or make your favorite artisanal cheese taste like it comes from a spray can. (High-alcohol, overly sweet wines can clobber food.)

3. Go High and Low
Find a cheap and an expensive wine from the same region—say, a $10 Bordeaux red and one that’s $25. Don’t tell anyone which cost more. Reveal this after everyone’s weighed in. The results are often surprising—and can be the source of friendly jibes for years to come.

Sign up for Blue Apron Wine and save on your first order! Click here.

Falling for Fall Flavors

This time of year, it’s easy to taste why some pairings make perfect sense from the very first bite and sip. Follow these simple pairing suggestions to experience food-and-wine aha moments you’ll want to try again and again.

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Click here save on your first order of Blue Apron Wine!

 

Pair to Perfection With Our New Pairing Key

Finding that perfect pairing for your delicious home-cooked dinner has never been easier, thanks to our simple and savvy pairing key.

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What’s New?

Instead of selecting one specific wine match for your meal, we’re now suggesting a style of wine that pairs well with your dish. The wines within this style share common flavors, aromas and characteristics and will each complement your recipe in their own unique way. So not only does this key lend flexibility to your wine pairing process, it’s also designed to open your eyes to meal and wine combinations you may not have otherwise considered.

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