March 17th, 2009

Simply put, decanting is just transferring wine from the bottle into another container (the decanter) before serving. Sound silly?

So what is decanting all about and when is it necessary if necessary at all? The two reasons to decant wines are to aerate young wines and separate sediment from older wines.


Young wines, particularly red, benefit from decanting by softening more coarse tannins and by revealing more of its flavor. For old wines, decanting separates the bitter or unsightly solids that have dropped to the bottom of the bottle known as sediment.

Wine could also be destroyed by oxygen. Very old wine should be consumed immediately after decanting. Although decanting will separate th

e sediment, too much oxygen will take away the small 15 minute window of pleasure you could have enjoyed from that 1945 Burgundy. If you decide to decant an old bottle of wine, do it immediately before service, not hours ahead of time.

Proper decanting requires forethought and a steady hand. If you really want to get “geeky” with it, there are specific decanters for specific wines. Younger wines benefit from larger bottomed decanters because of the surface area. But, any old carafe and decanter will do the job. For the older wines with sediment, it is beneficial to remove the entire capsule to be able to see the sediment as it reaches the neck of the bottle.

Really…that’s it. Plus, wine looks so much more sophisticated when it’s in a pretty crystal container. Wine tasting 101 still soon to come!

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