Decanting is a highly debated technique in the world of wine. Some believe that decanting can significantly improve a wine, while others feel it purposeless. Before we join the great debate, let’s get the facts. I started with researching what decanting actually means. (Apparently it doesn’t mean “when a group of 15th century witches congregate and set curses on people.” I know, I’m as surprised as you are.)
So what is decanting?
Simply stated, decanting is transferring (decanting) the contents of a wine bottle into another receptacle (the decanter) before serving. Yep. That confusing, intimidating word just means, “pouring wine from one bottle into another.” It may sound crazy, but there are solid reasons that explain why doing this can improve the quality and taste of a wine.
Often, wine can throw off sediment as it ages. Sediment is a combination of dead yeast cells, proteins, stems, bits of the grape skin, and other matter that settles during production of wine. At it’s worst, sediment can give wine a gritty texture; but often, its presence is just an annoyance. Decanting separates this sediment, improving the wine aesthetically. Sedimentary, my dear Watson.
Another reason some people decant is to mix the wine with oxygen. Many call this, “letting the wine breathe.” Mixing wine with oxygen can help enhance the aromas and flavors of a wine, bringing it to life quickly. This is often used for full-bodied wines with high tannins.
Why not decant?
Some believe that sediment is vital to the quality of a wine. The late Italian winemaker, Franco Biondi Santi, said “I never decant wines. Not only do I want the wines to come around gradually after years of being corked, but the sediment is the best part and is full of flavor. To separate it from the wine is to lose part of that wine’s identity.”
Aeration can be very important to enjoying a wine, however, it can be argued that wine can be aerated much more easily, and just as effectively. How? Simply by swirling the wine in the glass. Many also feel that decanting a wine allows for too much aeration, causing oxidation and weakening the wine’s aromas and flavors.
Ready to try decanting for yourself? Take the Bright Cellars wine quiz and get wine delivered directly to your door! We’ve even got a 50% off discount button below – it doesn’t get better than that!