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How, When, and Why to Decant Wine


The majority of wine drinkers use this very simple method: open the bottle and pour a glass. It’s a pretty simply process, almost impossible to mess up. However, sometimes you’re faced with a bottle whose cork can crumbled into the wine, or has a significant amount of sediment. You also may want to aerate the wine to allow it to reach its full potential before drinking. Decanting creates a great way to solve both of these problems. Many people may find using a decanter intimidating because they don’t quite understand its purpose. We’re going to show you how simple and useful it can be.

Removing Sediment and Aerating

Sediment is a natural part of wine. It is more commonly found in older red wines as the sediment is produced as the wine ages. White wines may appear to have sediment but it most likely isn’t. If white wine has the appearance of something similar to sugar crystals in the wine it is actually precipitated acid. For more information please see our page on chilling wine here.

It may hard to tell whether or not a wine has a significant amount of sediment in it simply because red wine is hard to see through. We find it better to decant as it can only help to improve the wine with the only downside being one extra piece of glassware to clean.

Here’s the process for decanting your wine:

1. If your bottle is standing upright then great, as long as it has been sitting upright for at least one day. This will ensure that all of the sediment is resting on the bottom of the bottle. If your bottle is stored on its side and you don’t want to wait until tomorrow to drink it then no problem. You just may need a friend to hold the bottle in the same position, but slightly inclined with the neck up (so wine doesn’t spill out when you open it), to make sure that the sediment stays on the side of the bottle that it was resting on. In fancy restaurants a sommelier will use a decanting basket or cradle to keep the bottle in the correct position.

2. Open the bottle.

3. Place some type of light under the neck of the bottle. This allows you to see the pooled sediment in the wine as you get near the end of the bottle so you know when to stop pouring.

4. Pour the wine into your decanter. As the bottle becomes more empty you should pour more slowly so you can see the sediment in the bottle without pouring it out.

5. Stop pouring the wine when it seems that the sediment will start to come out. Sometimes the wine will just look very the cloudy if the wine has been agitated. Otherwise you will see the sediment quite clearly, or a combination of the two.

6. Allow your wine to sit and aerate. The amount of time is subject to much debate so do however long seems right to you. We would recommend thirty minutes or more.

You’re all done! Enjoy your decanted wine!

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