Decanting wine can be an intimidating question to face. Should you decant wine in general? What about this wine? Why am I even doing this? Don’t worry! Today we caught up with the wine experts at Louisvale Wines to ask all the decanting questions you’ve always wanted to know the answer too, but daren’t ask.
What is decanting wine?
This one is easy! Many wines are not served straight from the bottle. Instead, they’re poured into an attractive pitcher (or something similar) and served from there.
Why do we decant wines?
This is the million-dollar question. You may have assumed ‘repackaging’ your wine for the table was just a way to show off or create a better aesthetic. In fact, it’s a key part of making many wines taste even better than they would straight out the bottle.
So it serves two purposes. Some wine varieties are prone to accumulating solids at the bottom of the bottle. It can also be used to make a wine look more attractive in a beautiful, arty decanter, and if the cork broke, it’s a great way to remove the problem. Decanting allows you to separate these unwanted bits so guests don’t get an unpleasant experience.
More importantly, however, and the true purpose behind decanting, is to introduce oxygen to the mix. This is called aeration, and can change how a wine feels, tastes, and smells, all for the better.
Wait- isn’t wine oxidation bad?
You aren’t wrong! Oxidation, a process where too much oxygen enters the wine and upsets its chemical make-up, is indeed bad for wine. Aeration just before you drink it, however, seeks to introduce just enough oxygen to add positively to the smell and taste, without allowing the wine to oxidize. This careful chemical balance is just one reason that winemaking, serving, and drinking is a true art!
What wines should I decant?
Most wines will benefit from breathing a little. Of course, that’s not the sparkling wines! They need to keep their fizz and bounce, so if you’re opening one of our delicious MCC Brut bottles, don’t decant it.
Wines that should be decanted are typically red, because aeration softens tannins, and include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
While something like our delicious Cape Chardonnay doesn’t have to be decanted, they can taste even better with a little aeration, so don’t be shy to give it a try!
How do I decant a wine?
It’s not quite as simple as just pouring out the bottle. Firstly, if you store your wine on the side, let it stand upright for a day so any sediment can settle at the bottom. Then, open your wine and tilt it toward the decanted, making sure not to raise the bottle bottom too high. Not only will this make the wine gush (and spill), it will also disturb any sediment. Pour it steadily and gently. If sediment does creep up, pause and let it settle again. You’ll need to leave about a shooter glass worth at the bottom if there’s sediment.
You can’t really over-decant a wine, although 4 hours before drinking is the usual advice. Try to drink or recork the bottle within 18 hours of opening if you have some leftover.
That’s it! You will see some fancy tools like aerators available for wines. These just seek to speed up the process, acting almost like a mini bubbler or blender. You can overdo it, however, so unless you’re a wine fan with a head for gadgets, you’re fine to leave these be.
Decanting a wine is a nice way to add another layer of flavour and enjoyment to your wine. If you’re a true wine aficionado, there’s plenty of tips and tricks you can learn to help you make the very best of your bottles and enjoy your hobby. If you just like to enjoy a wine socially with friends, however, there’s no need to sweat the intricacies too much. Simply let your wine breathe a little before you drink it, and enjoy every glass!
The Louisvale Wines team is always on hand to help you explore your passion for wine or answer any questions you may have, so don’t be too shy to reach out!