If you’re new to the world of wine, you’ve probably heard of the basics, especially when it comes to tasting it. However, did you know that there’s a process that changes the taste of wine? It’s called decanting. To many drinkers, it’s an intimidating and befuddling process that can be hard to do.
So what is decanting, and when should you do it? Is it essential that you decant every wine you drink? Or are there only certain wines that would benefit from the decanting process?
What is Decanting?
Decanting wine is a process of pouring wine into another container, done slowly so as not to disturb any sediment that formed at the bottom of the bottle. The wine is poured into a decanter, a glass vessel with varied shape and design, but usually has an easy-pour neck. Sometimes, decanted wine is served in this glass vessel, but in restaurants, the wine is poured back to the bottle for the service.
Decanters come in different sizes and shapes because some wines will need more time to decant. Full-bodied wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and a bottle of Chateau Margaux need a longer time for decantation and will benefit from a decanter with a broader base. This accelerates the oxygen during aeration, and the flavor will open up faster.
Medium-bodied wines such as Barbera and Merlot will need to be decanted in a medium-sized decanter. Light-bodied wines, on the other hand, can be decanted on either a small or a medium decanter chilled before use. Most white wines don’t need decanting but can be served in a decanter that is small and chilled.
Why Should Wine Be Decanted?
There are two reasons why wine should be decanted. The main reason for decantation is to separate the liquid from sediments formed and settled at the bottom of the wine bottle. This kind of sediment usually develops in red wines that are older or vintage ports. Sediment found in wine is in no way harmful, but it can significantly affect the taste of the wine.
Another reason is to enhance the flavor of the wine through aeration. Aeration lets the wine take oxygen as it is slowly poured into the decanter. Many young wines would benefit from aeration since they tend to be tight, and the increase of oxygen opens up the wine’s flavors and aroma, softening the astringent tannins in the process.
How Should Wine Be Decanted?
The process of decanting might seem intimidating to others. However, pouring the wine from the bottle to the decanter is easier than it looks. Done right, and it will remove the sediment that causes an unpleasant taste to your wine.
The first thing you have to do is to set the bottle of wine upright and still. This allows the sediment to fall down the bottom of the bottle, allowing you to separate the two easily. While the sediment settles, prepare the decanter you’re planning to use. Make sure it is clear and clean.
After removing the cork, wipe the neck of the bottle to make the bottle clearer. Find a light source- be it a candle or a flashlight- and hold it under the neck of the bottle. This will help you see the liquid teeming with sediments.
After doing this, you can now pour the wine to the decanter. Do it slowly to avoid disturbing the sediments on the bottom of the bottle. Don’t stop even once, and when you reach the bottom half of the bottle, slow your pace even more.
When the sediment has reached the neck of the bottle, this means that you should stop. You will notice this because the sediment will be chunky and hard to miss. After all of this, the wine will be ready to aerate. If you’re planning to use the bottle in the future, or pour back the win into it, throw out the leftover sediments from the bottle.
Different wines have different times of decantation. An average wine would need 40 minutes, although decantation can last between 15 to 30 minutes. There’s no formula for it. However, there’s a guide.
Full-bodied red wines would sometimes need 1-2 hours of decantation. Cheap wines would require a significant amount of oxygen to improve its flavor and aroma. However, it will only take 20 minutes. Old red wines would usually need about 2 hours.
After this, you can now serve the wine. Bask in the more vibrant aroma and flavorful taste of your newly decanted wine. Take note of how different it is compared to a wine that has not undergone decantation.
Some wines need decantation to enhance fully the aroma and flavor they possess. However, many are intimidated at the process that involves decanting a wine. Still, that doesn’t mean regular wine drinkers can’t decant wine themselves. By following standard procedure properly, anyone can enjoy a properly decanted wine at the comforts of their own home.