This past week I, again, was asked the on-going question: “Do I need to decant my wines and is there a benefit to it?” I have written on this topic in the past and still believe it benefits most wines to decant them.
Regardless of what the wine is, decanting is done to allow a wine to breathe (take in more oxygen). This helps the wine to open and brings out the complex aromas and flavors that are held captive in an unopened wine bottle. It also helps soften the wine’s finish.
You can decant any wine, both white and red. See my blog on decanting white wines (HERE). I have never had a wine get worse from decanting. However, many people prefer to serve wine straight from the bottle and then allow it to air and evolve in their glass. If that is your preference then I recommend you purchase some extra large stemmed wine glasses. These glasses are wider and taller and, due to the increased size, provide more wine surface to be exposed to the air. These glasses are much easier to swirl your wine in, thus giving the wine more opportunity to open.
What wines should I be decanting?
Cheaper Wines: Decanting cheaper wines makes them taste better. I recommend decanting your wines 15 to 20 minutes before you intend to serve them. However, you should taste the wine after 15 minutes to see if the wine is developing to your liking. If not, let it sit for a little longer and then taste it again.
Expensive Wines: Personally, I almost always decant these particular wines. Especially if they are full-bodied, high alcohol wines such as Cabernet Sauvignons, red blends and most Old World wines. These wines may need to be decanted as much as an hour before serving. Tasting the decanted wines every so often is very important. You need to make sure they remain stable and don’t suffer any ill effects from longer exposure to air.
Older Wines: Older red wines and port wines produce sediment as they age. When decanting wine you should carefully strain the wine in order to remove any sediment. Pouring will stir up sediment in the wine and cloud the wine’s appearance. This could also cause the wine to have bitter flavors as well as gritty textures. I recommend older, more fragile wines (especially those 12 to 15 years old) should only be decanted about 30 minutes prior to serving.
General Guidelines on Decanting
- The older the wine the less you want to decant it. Wines over 10 years old: no more than 30 minutes
- Wines that are 15 years old: not more than 15 minutes
- Wines that are under 5 years old: 1 to 1 ½ hour
- Wines over 5 years, but less than 10 years old: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Try the wines near the end of the decanting period to see how they taste
With the exception of expensive and older wines I believe that decanting is up to personal taste. I would recommend you purchase several bottles of the same wine and experiment with them. I would also recommend decanting one bottle and not the other. At the end of a time period that you select, you taste the wines to gauge any difference. You may also want to decant several bottles for different periods of time to see which one you prefer the taste of. For more information on decanting see my complete blog on the topic (HERE).
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- February 18th – National Drink Wine Day
- March 3rd – National Mulled Wine Day
- April 17th – International Malbec Day
- May 3rd – International Sauvignon Blanc Day
- May 9th – World Moscato Day
- May 23rd – International Chardonnay Day
- May 25th – National Wine Day
- June 8th – National Rosé Wine Day
- June 20th – National Lambrusco Day