Wine Questionary:

Decanting: How and why?

Most wines don't require decanting, but it is usually done for one or more of these reasons:

  1. To separate clear wine from sediment, in the case of the rare wine (Vintage Port, older Bordeaux) that has "thrown" a large amount of sediment in the bottle.

  2. To mix oxygen in to an ageworthy wine that is being opened while immature, in the hope that this process will somewhat soften its harsh, tannic astringency.

  3. Simply for aesthetics, in the believe that an attractive crystal decanter looks prettier on the table than a bottle of wine. Most wine hobbyists wouldn't do this, since they're more interested in the label than the decanter.

So unless your wine is full of sediment or immature, or if you're planning a very elegant party and feel that a decanter would be an attractive way to decant the wine, there's really no need to do this.

When you do decant a wine, the procedure is fairly simple, but the method differs depending on your purpose.

If you're decanting to avoid sediment, then you must pour very gently from the bottle to the decanter, taking care not to shake the bottle or pick it up and put it down repeatedly, so the sediment will stay at the bottom of the bottle and not mix into the wine. It's best to do this in front of a strong light so you can see when the muddy sediment starts to approach the bottle neck so you can stop pouring. (If you have a very fine wine and don't want to waste a drop, you can pour the last bit into a separate glass through a paper coffee filter.) The sediment, by the way, is harmless, but it's muddy and gritty and not pleasant to get into your glass.

If you're decanting to "breathe" an immature wine, then you should pour vigorously, with the idea of splashing as much air as possible into the wine.\r\n

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