Wine 101: Decanting Wine

First let’s demystify decanting a wine a bit. Decanting wine is simply pouring wine from a bottle into another vessel.

Why Decant

There are two reasons to decant a wine.  The first and most common reason is to aerate the wine (a.k.a letting the wine “breathe”) because it can improve the taste of young and affordable wine.  The second reason is separate the wine from the sediment that can be present in older vintages of Port or aged Bordeaux wines.

Here are two important things to remember about aerating wine.  First– In most cases, you can aerate wine by simply swirling it in the glass.  Secondly, simply removing the cork from a bottle without pouring out any wine does nothing to aerate the wine.

Which Wines to Decant

In general, most young medium to full-bodied, oak aged red wines that have grippy tannins or taste sharp and spicy, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah, can benefit from decanting. On the other hand, very few California white wines will benefit from decanting.

How and How Long to Decant

To maximize aeration of a wine, it's recommended pouring the wine from the bottle into the decant so the wine hits the inside of the decanter’s neck and then spreads out in the body of the decanter as it falls. Once the wine has been poured in the decanter, feel free to swirl the wine around inside a few times.  In general, we recommend decanting a wine for a least 30 minutes but an hour is typical.

Finally, with wines that have sediment, all you really need to know is that you should do it slowly and carefully, as if the wine were like nitroglycerin. This will ensure the sediment stay in the bottle and doesn’t get in your decanter.

Keep in mind that decanting a wine for aeration is a matter of personal taste.  The best way to discover what you like is through trial and error.

There you have it! Why not buy a few bottles of Lodi wine and discover for yourself which wines benefit from decanting!  

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Martin Redmond

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