If you’ve ever wondered which wines you should decant and what decanting actually achieves, then here are a few rules of thumb.
Simply put, to decant is to create a barrier from any sediment (a combination of tannin and colour particles) mostly present in older reds from the remainder of the wine. Secondly the aeration that occurs as a result of decanting causes small but complex changes to the wine dependant on its age and style.
When a wine is aerated, gases are disbursed allowing wines to “open” and unfold a fuller, intricate and varied taste wardrobe. Aeration also reduces undesired odours such as sulphur dioxide in very young wines.
Ideal wines to decant are definitely those produced with cellaring in mind. Full-bodied older reds such as Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Sangiovese will cultivate sediment as they mature in the bottle.
In younger red wines, segmentation is not as big of a concern, however the aeration of the wine allows it to “open” once it is poured into the decanter, whereby gasses are dissolved from within the wine to unveil the wine’s character.
In white wines, young and full-bodied oaked wines, particularly Chardonnay produced for cellaring can also be decanted. Aeration allows some oxidation to occur to unveil more complex fruit characters. Young, light whites won’t necessarily benefit from decanting if they are produced for early drinking, as their principal fruit characters maybe compromised.
Older white wines tend to oxidise very quickly and lose primary characters if decanted so you will need to give some consideration here.
Different wines require different methods dependant on age and style. Mature wines require the removal of sediment and need to be decanted with care and a slow pace. Younger wines that benefit mainly from aeration can be decanted quickly with movement and enthusiasm. Swirl your decanter with energy before pouring into the glass for younger wines.
DECANTING YOUR WINE
- Before decanting an older wine, stand the bottle upright for several hours allowing sediment to gently gather and settle at the base of the bottle.
- Remove cork
- Optional, but lighting a candle will illuminate the contents of the bottle and reveal the location of any sediment.
- Slowly pour the contents of the bottle into the wine decanter. This should be accomplished in a smoothly angled, balanced and tempered pour so the wine does not glug or gush out of the bottle. Tipping the bottle too far forward will disturb the sediments at the bottom.
- The last quarter of the bottle should be poured even slower so as the sediment is trapped at the shoulder of the bottle preventing it from entering the decanter.
- When the sediment starts moving toward the neck of the bottle, stop decanting.