Decanting your Cabernet Perfectly

Now you know more about the exciting possibilities of Cabernet wines, how do you serve one properly? As anyone who’s visited the delectable Food @ Louisvale on the Louisvale Wine estate knows, there’s an art to serving wine- and how you decant it is a key part of that. Today we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about decanting.

What is Decanting?

Decanting simply means moving your wine from the bottle that was its home to another vessel to serve it. But it’s not just a cute wine ceremony! Decanting both aerates the wine and removes sediment in sediment-prone wines. 

Red wines, as they age, naturally produce sediment as the colour and tannins in the wine bond together and drop to the bottom of the bottle. If stirred up and re-integrated into the aged wine, however, they can bring back bitter, gritty tastes and cloud the wine. Sediment isn’t harmful, but it doesn’t taste good! Most wines over 5 years old should be decanted by rote.

Aeration simply introduces air to the wine, which can smooth and enhance the taste and flavours. 

How to Decant

The day before you want to drink your wine, grab your wine bottle and set it upright. This encourages the sediment to settle to the bottom. Then, when you’re ready to open it, simply have your decanter ready- you can invest in a beautiful wine decanter, or simply use anything clean and clear you can pour from.

De-cork the bottle and wipe the neck clean. Hold a light under the neck of the bottle- a candle or flashlight will do. Slowly and steadily pour into the decanter, being especially careful as you get to the lower half. As soon as your light reveals sediment, stop pouring. Watch out for cloudiness, or specs, in the wine, not just big clumps. Discard what’s left and you are done!

The Argument for Aeration

Learning how to aerate a wine- and for how long- is an item much debated in wine-loving circles. It’s particularly useful, however, to pep up a wine that underwhelms on first taste. However, some believe it also makes the wine ‘fade’ faster, and that the interplay of oxygen and wine in the glass is enough.

As a quick rule-of-thumb, older and more ‘fragile’ wines should never be decanted upward of half an hour before drinking. More robust and younger wines can tolerate standing for an hour or more. If you over-do aeration, you run the risk of oxidising the wine, so unless you’re very familiar with it, don’t move past those markers. 

As with many of the wine ‘ceremonies’ you encounter, decanting is a fun, but practical, tool to have in your wine kit. If you’re struggling with any of it, remember that the Louisvale Wines team love to talk wine with our fans, so don’t hesitate to reach out for some more tips!