Should You Decant Your Wine?

by Daniel Frigeri

Decanting a wine is super easy and provides lots of great benefits that are noticeable on the nose and on the palate.

Wines can typically be decanted for 20 minutes to two hours depending on the style and age of the wine.

Decanting wine offers substantial benefits before pouring it for guests, but how do you know when and what to decant? Say you’re hosting a nice dinner party, it’s mid-December and the trees are beginning to frost, the holidays are approaching, roasted dinners are becoming a staple, and that big bold Cab from Bordeaux is screaming to be let out.

Your guests settle into your famous spinach and artichoke dip while the duck finishes in the oven. Now is the perfect time to bring out that decanter that’s been collecting dust on the shelf next to your red wines.

Decanting a wine is super easy and provides lots of great benefits that are noticeable on the nose and on the palate. Before you start, make sure the wine has been sitting upright (so sediment can properly sink to the bottom) and open the wine with your favorite wine key, as per usual.

Then, slowly pour that wine into the decanter, even more slowly once you’ve reached the halfway mark. Pouring in front of a light source would be helpful so you can see the sediment as you pour because that sediment should be left in the bottle (and we don’t want to decant the sediment). And also be extra careful pouring your decanted or aerated wine for your guests as most glass decanters are very delicate and can have uneven weight distribution due to the odd shape.

Wines can typically be decanted for 20 minutes to two hours depending on the style and age of the wine. The younger and bolder the wine is, the longer you want to decant it, as a lot of younger wines can have “tight” structure. If a wine is 10 years or older, avoid decanting for more than 30 minutes as those wines are more delicate.

Related: The 5 Best Wine Decanters on the Market

Decanting helps expedite the introduction of oxygen into the wine, helping it “open” a bit or increase the wine’s aroma, improving those delicious fruit and oak notes present. You’ve probably noticed, as you drink a glass of luscious grape juice that the nose, tasting notes, and overall characteristics tend to change a bit sip after sip. This is because as that wine is being swirled around and enjoyed it is acting as a mini decanter of sorts. 

Some common decantable wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, and even some whites like an oaked Chardonnay or a young Sauvignon Blanc. With white wines, it can be beneficial to invest in another smaller decanter apart from your larger one used for the reds. But in general, nearly all wines could benefit from the decanting process.

So, bust that decanter out and really impress your friends with what your wine can truly offer.



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