Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Wine 101: Decanting Your Wine

Wine Decanting Basics

Welcome to Wednesday Wine 101, Week 3! Two weeks ago, I started with the basics and introduced you to the 9 Noble White Grapes. Last week, I introduced you to the 9 Noble Red Grapes. Moving right along with our wine education, this week I will be talking about the what, why, when, how, and who (which grapes) of decanting!

So, first, what is decanting? In terms of wine, it is the process of pouring wine (typically from the bottle) into a glass container called a decanter. As you can see in the above picture, I have a pretty standard looking decanter. There are all sorts of decanters out there, but this one works perfectly well for me and is easy to clean!

Now that we know what decanting is, why do you decant wine? There are two different reasons: firstly, you decant wine to aerate it and give the wine a chance to breathe, or open up. Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, poured yourself a glass, and noticed that the more you drank, the better the wine got? This is because the wine was exposed to air and had a chance to let the flavors develop (and, perhaps, if you drank the whole bottle because anything tastes great eventually!) As you pour wine into the decanter, it is exposed to air and given a chance to breathe, aerate, and develop the flavors within the wine. The second reason to decant wine is if you have (typically) an older bottle of wine with sediment, you decant the wine in order to separate the sediment from the wine. Often, after wine has been in a bottle for 5-10 years, they will produce sediments that will settle in the bottle- it is important to separate these so your bottle tastes better.

Next, which wines should you decant? As mentioned above, any wine that has sediment in it should be decanted to remove this sediment from the wine. Beyond these older wines, I personally recommend decanting any cheap wine, as well as any more full-bodied wines. Decanting a cheap bottle of wine will help to round out the flavors and ease any of the harshness that comes from sulfur dioxides in the bottle. We learned last week from reading about the 9 noble red grapes that more full bodied wines will include Malbecs, Syrahs, and Cabernet Sauvignons. Decanting these more full bodied wines will open them up, allowing more flavors to reach your palate, as well as smoothing out the tannins in the wine. You can decant lighter wines such as pinot noirs, but often these wines are soft enough where decanting is not necessary.

The last thing I will talk about today in regards to decanting wine is how to do it! If you are doing a cheap bottle of wine with no sediment, simply tilt the decanter at about a 45 degree angle and pour the wine into the decanter, allowing the wine to flow down the side of the decanter. With a bottle of wine that has no sediment, you can pour the whole bottle into the decanter. The tricky part of decanting a bottle of wine is when you have a bottle that has sediment in it. In this case, you will perform much the same act, tilting the decanter and slowly pouring the wine from the bottle into the decanter, flowing down the side. Carefully watch the neck of the bottle that you are decanting, and as soon as you see any sediment stop pouring the wine into the decanter. There will be about 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) of wine left in the bottle, and that is OK because you don't want the sediment!

how to decant wine
Me with my trusty decanter!
So there we have it with all the information you need to know about decanting wine! Do you have any further questions about decanting, or is there anything you would like to know about wine?

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