Do you own a wine decanter, and how frequently do you use it? Do you think decanting wine makes a difference? Why do some wines require decanting while others do not?
Personally, I adore wine decanters and have amassed quite a collection over the years. My collection includes a few special ones that were wedding gifts, but the majority of my decanters are simple, inexpensive, everyday decanters.
I keep one on the kitchen counter all the time so it's always handy.
What is decanting?
Decanting wine is the act of pouring (decanting) the contents of one vessel (typically a bottle) into another vessel (typically a decanter). Normally, the wine is poured from the decanter, but in restaurants, it is often decanted back into the original bottle for serving.
Why is wine decanted?
Not all wines need decanting. Many of us equate decanting with older vintage port wines or aged Bordeaux – wines that produce a significant amount of sediment as they mature. Decanting removes the alcohol from the sediment, which not only makes the wine look bad in the bottle, it also makes it taste astringent. Decanting the wine slowly and deliberately means that the sediment remains in the bottle and that you get a good transparent wine in the decanter, and therefore in your drink.
A second, more common excuse to decant wine is to aerate it.
On the nose or palate, many young wines may be tight or closed.
The wine absorbs oxygen as it is slowly poured from the bottle into the decanter, which helps free up the aromas and flavors.
Wines that are highly tannic and full-bodied gain the most from this, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet blends, Syrah, and Syrah blends.
Opponents of decanting for aeration contend that stirring the wine in the glass has the same result, and that decanting will expose the wine to so much oxygen, resulting in oxidation and dissipation of aromas and taste – the opposite of what you like. Personally, I disagree, unless you are decanting a very old red Burgundy wine, which is still fragile and needs minimum oxygen exposure before drinking, or you decant the wine hours and hours before you want to drink it.
Is it necessary to decant white wine?
Most citizens do not consider decanting white wine. However, there are many white wines that can benefit from it, particularly higher-end wines that can mature, as these can often taste awkward or gangling when first poured from the bottle. Decanting allows the wine to breathe. In the other hand, most young whites do not want decanting.
How about decanting Champagne or sparkling wine?
I'm sure few of you have ever considered decanting Champagne or sparkling wine. How are those bubbles? Can they simply dissipate? Decanting Champagne has become a chic 'thing' to do, especially with older vintage champagnes, which are more of advanced nuanced aromas and flavors than a vibrant youthful mousse.
Riedel, a well-known wine glass manufacturer, also has a Champagne decanter.
As Champagnes and sparkling wines mature, the mousse softens and becomes less prominent on the palate. Furthermore, some people find the bubbles in some young Champagnes to be overpowering. Decanting reduces the abrasiveness of the bubbles.
However, for many people, Champagne and sparkling wine are inextricably linked to the feeling of bubbles, and any behavior that could diminish their vibrancy is considered heresy!
Each on his or her own.
Apart from decanting to extract sediment, it is ultimately a matter of personal interest.
Rather than take it too seriously, I think it's interesting to play with decanting various wines to see what happens – some you'll like better, some you won't.
And that is part of the fun.
Pouring wine from a decanter has always felt subliminally remarkable to me as a decanting advocate.
Would love to hear the views of our readers on the matter.
Until next week enjoy!