Decant, You Can
“I love wine, so for my birthday, people tend to get me lots of wine stuff. This year, someone gave me a decanter. What wines are best for decanting? What is the best way to get the wine into the decanter?” - Carla (McMinnville)
One can never have too many decanters, especially if that person, like me, often breaks things made of glass. With that said, I have two rules for decanting.
Rule No. 1: Use on young, fuller bodied red or white wines, but especially reds. When decanting a younger wine, simply pour the wine into the decanter. This allows oxygen to get into the wine, helping it release its aromatic and flavor compounds, unlocking its true self. Once in the decanter, pour a small amount into your glass and leave the rest, letting it open up for a little longer.
Rule No. 2: Use for older red and dessert wines. As wines age, they tend to deposit sediment at the bottom or along the sides of the bottle. There is nothing wrong with your wine if it does so; however, having literally chewy wine is not a pleasant experience as anyone who has ever reached the end of their glass only to have the last sip full of a gritty, purple chunk will tell you. For these wines, the decanting process needs to be a little more careful.
First, slowly open the wine, and with a cloth, clean the inside and outside of the mouth of the bottle. Next, place either a candle or a flashlight beside the decanter with the light directed upwards. As you pour the wine into the decanter, allow the light to show through the upper part of the neck and shoulder of the bottle. By doing this, you will see sediment as it starts to make its way into the neck. Once this happens, carefully set the bottle down and let it settle for several minutes, then try again, as you might be able to squeeze a little more clear wine away from the remaining sediment.
If you do use a candle, be very careful to not position the flame too close to the bottle; you don’t want to cook the wine while it makes its exit.
Generally speaking, as soon as an older wine is opened it starts to lose its character, so leaving it in the decanter for several hours (as you might with a younger vintage) will not benefit the wine or you.
Have fun with it!
- Jenni Cossey
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your questions, and I’ll see you next month.