This article was published on March 10th, 2015
Remember the time you’re at a tasting event and the wine principal behind the table opens up a bottle of red wine but instead of pouring it into your glass directly, he or she elegantly pours all of the wine into a glass carafe before serving you a glass. That process is called decanting wine.
In simple terms, decanting wine is when you pour (decant) the wine from the bottle into another vessel (i.e. decanter). The wine is usually served into your glass from a decanter but sometimes the wine will be decanted back into the original bottle for aesthetic appeal.
So, when and why does wine need to be decanted? Is it really necessary or is it just for show?
Two Main Reasons for Decanting-
1. Get the sediments out
As red wine ages, sediments naturally occur because the colour pigments, tannins and other solid matters fall into the bottom of the bottle. While this sediment helps give character and complexity to the wine, leaving it in the wine can cloud the wine’s appearance and cause your tasting experience to become quite bitter, nasty and bitter. By decanting the wine, you can separate its sediments from the wine.
2. Allow the wine to breathe
Exposing oxygen to wine is called aeration. Swirling your wine glass and decanting the wine are two ways to aerate. Wines that are full-bodied and highly tannic (like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) benefit most from decanting because it softens the tannins and helps open up the aromas and flavours that are otherwise closed off to the palate.
TIP: To prevent your wine from oxidizing, a rule of thumb is to decant the older wine (15 years old +) 30 minutes before drinking. A younger, full-bodied red wine should be decanted an hour or more before serving.
5 Easy Steps to Decanting-
1. Set your wine bottle upright for 24 hours prior to opening it. This helps to separate the sediment off to the bottom of the bottle for easier separation.
2. Open the bottle and pour the wine into a decanter. If you don’t have a decanter, a clear and glass vessel would work to pour the wine into.
3. Continue to pour slowly and steadily until you get to the bottom half of the bottle.
4. Stop pouring as soon as you see sediments reach the neck of the bottle or if the wine’s colour becomes cloudy and dusty.
5. You should now have separated the sediments and wine. The next step is to allow your wine to “breathe” (aerate) in the decanter for approximately 30 minutes before serving it. Cheers!
Do you have any tips for decanting? Let us know.
This post is presented by Serendipity Winery in Naramata Bench, BC. Serendipity is about the real magic in life, the moments of unexpected but fortunate discovery. Join us for a Naramata wine adventure and ask us about the story behind every bottle.