Want to get the most out of your wine? Even the cheap stuff? We thought you might. So, let’s talk about wine decanting, shall we?
Decanting your wine before serving it is the #1 thing you can do to make your wine taste better.
At this point you might be thinking “really?” – and you wouldn’t be alone.
Decanting is one of those elements of wine that remains somewhat mysterious and intimidating to many drinkers: Which wines need decanting? When should I do it? How do I even do it? Is it really even necessary or is this just a wine snob ritual?
While it may look like a bunch of pomp and circumstance, we’re confident – based on opening, decanting, and comparing hundreds of bottles of wine – that decanting is the best thing you can do to improve the taste of most any wine. But why don’t we let you be the judge of that! Instead of taking our word for it, we’re going to show you how to test this theory for yourself so you can decide if the proof is in the pudding.
First, let’s prepare you with some basic wine decanting knowledge. Below you’ll find a detailed guide to wine decanting: what is it, how does it work, and tips to help you decant your wines properly.
Wine Decanting 101: Everything You Need To Know
What does wine decanting mean?
Simply put, wine decanting means transferring (decanting) the contents of a wine bottle into another receptacle (called a wine decanter).
Why should I decant wine?
While some people might think a wine decanter is simply used for aesthetic purposes (i.e. to look prettier), there’s actually a functional purpose for decanting your wine. When you decant a bottle of wine, two things happen:
Decanting allows wine (particularly older wine) to separate from its sediment. Sediment, if consumed, will impart a very noticeable bitter, astringent flavor.
When you pour wine into a decanter, the wine is exposed to and mixes with oxygen in the air. This increased aeration reveals more complexity in the wine and opens up deeper aromas and flavors (particularly important for younger wines).
How does decanting wine make it taste better?
The main preservation element in wine is carbon dioxide, which naturally occurs during the first alcoholic fermentation. When you decant wine, it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide and “matures” the wine, allowing the bouquet to develop faster.
On the palate, decanted wine expresses higher levels of fruit in red wines and tends to integrate and smooth out tannins.
Here’s a great video explaining both:
Ok, I believe you. How do I decant my wine?
Step-by-step guide to decanting wine:
Step 1: Grab a clear glass or crystal wine decanter and make sure it’s clean, clean, clean. We don’t recommend washing it with soap (see tips below).
Step 2: Open the bottle and pour wine into the decanter.
Step 3: Wait anywhere from 20min to a few hours to allow the wine to breath. Deciding how long to decant your wine is more of an art than a science. Generally speaking, younger wines require more time to develop, while older wines tend to fade if you let them sit too long. If you pour a sample of a young wine and it seems inexpressive, let it sit longer. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
Wine Decanting Tips
When decanting young wines, turn the bottle straight into the decanter and let it splash into the vessel, allowing maximum aeration.
When decanting off the sediment of an old wine, slowly pour the wine into the decanter without allowing any sediment to leave the bottle.
Don’t clean your decanter with detergent, because the shape of a decanter makes it very difficult to get the soapy residue out. Instead, use a mixture of crushed ice and coarse salt — they’ll remove any residual wine without leaving behind any aroma of their own.