To decant your wine or not to decant, that is the question. What is the real purpose behind the dramatic art of decanting a bottle of wine?
Some answers to common decanting questions include:
Why decant a bottle of wine? Decanting a bottle of wine gives the wine time to breathe and reach its flavor peak. This also allows for any sediment or tannin to settle at the bottom, which is a common occurrence with red wine. So actually decanting the wine makes it more palatable.
How long does wine need to decant? Aged wine (older than eight years) require a couple hours to properly decant after being opened. Younger wines--less than eight years old--only require 10-15 minutes, which is the perfect time to socialize with guests, prepare snacks, or ready your glassware while waiting for the wine. You can talk with a professional, like JJ Buckley Fine Wines, to see how long you should decant your brand of wine.
Do all bottles of wine need to be decanted? Any bottle of red or white wine benefits from being given time to breathe. However, the key is in how long you decant the wine and expose it to air. Whites need far less time and reds a bit longer, which explains why a red wine glass has a much larger opening than a glass intended for white wine.
What is the best way to decant wine? There are many gadgets and gizmos on the market for decanting and aerating wine, but the simplest and most effective method only requires a wine opener and a narrow-neck vessel to transfer the wine to. A larger opening equates to more exposure to air which will significantly reduce the time needed to decant the wine, so adjust your aerating time accordingly.
What happens if you don't decant your wine? The real crime in not decanting wine is that you may never experience the flavor peak of the varietal you are tasting. Also, you might get a gritty taste or texture on your tongue if you don't give red wines or older vintages time for the tannins to settle.
Are there any wines that should definitely not be decanted? Letting wine breathe or aerate too long will cause you to miss their flavor peak, so don't decant your whites or young reds longer than necessary. Keep a cork or bottle-stopper handy to prevent rapid deterioration of the wine's flavor while you are enjoying a glass. Also, don't bother to decant sparkling wines or champagne; this will only serve to make them go flat.
Before you dig in and pour yourself a glass of a special bottle of wine, take time to let it breathe and decant. Talk with wine sellers and sommeliers for further information and techniques for decanting your favorite varietals.