As I have said many times before, I find nothing wrong with decanting every bottle of wine you drink –including whites. I feel all young wines should be decanted. Most wines today are made to drink right away or from one to two years of age. A majority of these wines are consumed in the first two days after purchase.
Decanting or aerating wines, especially young wines, will make them open and have better aromas and palate flavors. When you expose wine to the air or oxygen, after opening or before serving, there are undesirable molecules in the wine that change and evaporate. This change is what makes the wine taste better. You “let the wine breathe” by swirling the wine around in your glass, or by decanting or aerating. The amount of time you have before you serve the wine makes a big difference in how you aerate your wine. Decanting takes more time than aerating. If you can afford the time, I recommend decanting the wine in a large decanter.
There are several types of wine that you always want to decant. Especially red wines that are older vintages and wines that are bolder in taste. The reason you want to decant these wines is to separate the sediment from the wine, to open the wine’s aroma (get great flavors on the nose) and to open the wine’s flavor profile (unlock the many flavors in the wine).
In older wines that that are more than 10 years old you want to be careful you do not decant them too long. It will damage the aromas and flavor profiles if you do. Your wines will taste much better if they are decanted a proper amount of time. I recommend tasting the older decanting wines every half hour to make sure you do not over decant.
The wines I recommend decanting are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
- Most Old World wines
- All young wines
The type of decanter I use and recommend is one with a wide bottom on it. A wide bottom decanter increases the amount of wine that can be exposed to the air at any given time. Do not forget to always strain the wine as you pour it into the decanter to remove any sediment.
If you intend to serve a wine quickly, I recommend that you use an aerator to expose the wine to air. In this situation you do not typically have the time to decant for several hours. Since young wines are generally closed when you open them (no aromas or palate flavors) aerators work well to help the wines open up.
Another way to determine if you need to aerate your wine is to first pour it into your glass and swirl it a couple of times then taste it to see how the flavor profile is and, of course, smell the wine to determine if the wine is “opening up.” Can you smell the fruit on the nose? If no, then aerate the next glass.
One more thing I have also mentioned a number of times before, especially on older wines, I would let the wines stand upright for several days prior to opening. This allows sediment to settle from the sides of the bottle to the bottom of the bottle into the punt. This limits the amount of sediment you might pour through your strainer or decanter. Remember to be careful and not pour the entire bottle into the decanter. Leave enough wine to cover the punt and the sediment that has settled there.
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