When to Decant a Wine

Deciding When to Decant a wine is really quite easy. Even though there are no absolute rules to tell you which wines to decant, here are three guidlines that should serve you well.

1 ) If the wine is old enough that you suspect it may have thrown sediment (5 years old or more, generally) then you will want to decant. The purpose of decanting in this situation is clearly to keep sediment from being poured into the glasses. If the wine is very old, it should be decanted only a short while before it is to be consumed. The bouquet of the wine is likely to be fleeting and may disappear if the wine is opened too far in advance.

2 ) If you have a big, young red wine that is very closed or very tannic because of its youth, you should decant it. In this case, you are decanting to allow the wine to breath and soften. This exposure to oxygen will cause the young wine to open up (be more aromatic and flavorful) and will soften the effect of the tannins on your palate. In the case of a 'big' young wine, you will want to decant well before you are planning on consuming the wine. A period of 2 to 24 hours could be appropriate. This will allow enough time for the bouquet to develop through exposure to oxygen. If the wine is opened and decanted too short a time before consumption, the bouquet may still be 'closed' and subdued.

3 ) When you want to make the situation special, decant. Decanting can be a great way to add to the 'theater' of fine dining.

Wines that would not generally be decanted would include most 'everyday wines' and most white wines.


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