What’s the Deal with Decanting Red Wine?

top wine tools for beginners – wine is poured into a decanter on a wooden table

We like to tell it to you straight, so we got to thinking, “are people actually decanting their red wine?” 

We asked our Bright Cellars community, and the results tell all:


  • 38.1% of respondents said “sometimes, if I have the time”
  • 28.3% of respondents chose “never, it doesn’t make any difference to me.”
  • 19.6% of respondents asked, “what’s decanting?”
  • 14.1% of respondents said, “always, it improves the flavor!”

We also asked our Bright Cellars Instagram community and got some thoughtful responses: 

  • If I have the time, yes. But I always use an aerator! 
  • Yes, if it’s an older vintage of a larger wine.
  • It depends! If the wine needs it, then I do.

If you don’t already own a decanter, let us make our case for why you should run out and buy one!

Firstly, decanting aerates your wine which brings out the original aromas and flavors. Secondly, decanting decreases the chance of sediment in your glass.

For a more in-depth dive into the benefits of decanting, check out our blog post Why You Should Be Decanting Your Red Wine. 

While all wines can benefit from the decanting process, you should primarily decant your cheaper red wines or your red wines that have been aged over 20 years. You’ll notice quite a difference post-decant. If you decide to give it a try, pour yourself a sip straight from the bottle. Then decant for 20 minutes to two hours, and see if you taste a difference. 

An alternative to decanting

If timing is the problem (we get it, sometimes you just want to dive into your favorite bottle of wine ASAP), there are some alternatives that provide a similar effect. Try using an in-bottle aerator to aerate your wine instead. As you pour, the aerator will oxygenate the wine in the same way a decanter would, without the wait. 

In Vino Finito

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

  1. Whilst I agree decanting is ideal, I am a widower, I have buried my parents and my children and far too many friends. This is not a call for a pity party but simply to recognize the simple fact that once decanted the entire bottle of wine needs to be drunk and in fairly short order, at that. So, decanting a bottle would mean my either becoming a drunk and that is certainly no way to enjoy good wine, or only have a glass of wine the few times a year I host a party, or I end up wasting or cooking with what was a very good bottle of wine that has now been open too long. And whilst a good decanter will aerate the wine nicely, it will not keep it well. And having to play tinkers to evers to chance pouring wine from bottle to decanter to bottle and then de-airing the bottle multiple time seems a bit overkill. I’ll open my bottle, poor a glass, evacuate and seal the bottle and re-store it in a wine cooler. The glass can sit for a while and I can use an aerator as well. So, decant – yes, when possible, but that is not terribly frequent.

    1. Hi Dan, we’re so sorry to hear that. We’d suggest pouring the amount you plan on drinking for the night into the decanter and leaving the rest in the bottle. We know it can be a bit of a pain to guess and check, but the first glass is the most important, we always say!
      Otherwise, you’re right on the nose – an in-bottle aerator is an excellent alternative. Cheers and wishing you well!

  2. All that writing and you still didn’t tell us how and why decanting and aerating improves the taste and “makes it better”? — sheez. Thank you.

    1. Hi Peter! Take a peek at our more in-depth blog post, Why You Should Be Decanting Your Red Wine: http://www.brightcellars.com/why-you-should-be-decanting-your-red-wine/

      This post goes into a little more detail. Basically, allowing the wine to breathe releases flavors that have been lying dormant in the bottle. Aeration also enhances a wine’s flavor by softening tannins and releasing the gases that have formed in place of oxygen during the fermentation process.

      Let us know if you have any more questions, we’re always happy to help. Thanks!

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