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How to Decant Your Wine

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Many wines need decanting if you want to enjoy them at their best.

The most common method of achieving this is to use a wine decanter, although this is not the only way of aerating your favorite red wines.

Any glass or crystal container into which you can pour your wine before serving is classified as a wine decanter.

I. Why Should You Consider Decanting Wine?

There are three primary reasons for decanting wine:

  1. When you want to soften the structure of tannins in a young red wine.
  2. If you have red wine that needs bringing from storage temperature to the ideal drinking temperature.
  3. To prevent the sediment in older bottles of red wine from ending up in your wine glass.

When it comes to how to decant wine, you have many different options, the most common being:

  • Wine decanter
  • Wine aerator
  • Kitchen blender

We’ll next highlight how you can best aerate your wine using each of these methods.

1. How to Decant Wine Using a Wine Decanter

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If you opt to use a wine decanter when aerating your wine, all you need to do is pour the wine very slowly from the bottle into the decanter using a controlled pour. You can either:

  • Hold the wine bottle in one hand and the wine decanter in the other.
  • Set the wine decanter on a flat surface and hold the wine bottle in your dominant hand.

Whichever technique you use, the key is to use a controlled pouring motion.

Shock decanting is an alternative technique also sometimes called splash decanting. Using this accelerated technique, simply upend and invert your wine bottle so the force of gravity causes the liquid to decant at speed.

Shock decanting works well for young red wines packed with tannins that you have aged for 2 years or less. Shock decanting doesn’t work well with mature red wines, especially those with a significant accumulation of sediment in the bottle.

2. How to Decant Wine Using a Wine Aerator

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Wine aerators force wine into close contact with a jet of pressurized oxygen. This aerates the wine near-instantly and also helps to swish it around, opening up the bouquet.

Using a wine aerator has one core benefit: it triggers and hastens the process of oxidation, while at the same time increasing the rate of evaporation.

A wine aerator works like a turbo-charged version of a wine decanter.

3. How to Decant Wine Using a Kitchen Blender

With young red wines, it is possible to use a kitchen blender for the purposes of aeration. This method is inadvisable for other types of wine.

Simply pour the whole bottle of young red wine into the blender and blitz for 10 to 15 seconds. The movement of the blades in the blender will speed up the aeration and oxidation process, ideal for this type of wine.


II. How Long Does It Take to Decant Wine?

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There is no fixed timeline for decanting wine since there are multiple methods of decanting and many types of wine.

If you employ the shock decanting method, you’ll derive almost all the benefits immediately. Required breathing time after shock decanting is no more than 15 minutes.

Older red wines decanted using the traditional method should be allowed to breathe for between 30 minutes and 4 hours or more.

Detailed Breakdown of Wine Decanting Times

Here is a representative sample or red wines along with the corresponding decanting times:

  • Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon like Bordeaux: 2 hours
  • Garnacha Blend like Côtes du Rhône, GSM, or Priorat: 1 hour
  • Malbec: 1 hour
  • Petite Sirah: 2 hours
  • Zinfandel: 30 minutes
  • Vintage Port: 2 hours
  • Douro and Dão Reds: 2–3 hours
  • Monastrell/Mourvèdre like Bandol: 2 to 3 hours
  • Shiraz/Syrah: 2–3 hours
  • Pinot Noir like red Bourgogne: 30 minutes
  • Nebbiolo like Barolo and Barbaresco: 3+ hours
  • Tempranillo like Rioja and Ribera del Deuro: 2 hours
  • Sangiovese like Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino: 2 hours

Most white wines do not need decanting. Indeed, decanting some delicate white wines can be counterproductive, and possibly even damaging.

Some white wines give off an unpleasant musty smell redolent of sulfur. If you run across a bottle of wine like this – those produced in much cooler climates, for instance – you can counterbalance this by decanting it for 30 minutes before serving.

 How to Decant Wine Effectively in 12 Easy Steps

  1. The younger the wine and the higher the tannin content, the longer it will take to decant.
  2. Nearly all red wine will taste better when decanted before serving.
  3. Cheap reds and bold reds work well when decanted using a kitchen blender.
  4. Wine aerators do not work well for aged wines, although in most other cases they provide a fast and efficient decanting experience.
  5. Most wines will only last from 12 hours to 18 hours after they have been decanted.
  6. Try using a stainless steel filter when you are pouring aged red wines from the bottle into a wine decanter.
  7. Closed red wines respond favorably to double decanting. If you can detect almost no trace of fruit or aroma, the wine can be considered closed. A wine with too much tannin can also be described as closed. Double decanting is straightforward. Simply pour the wine back into the bottle from the decanter and then decant a second time and leave for 30 minutes. It will be worth the wait.
  8. Decanting a cheap red wine will render it much more drinkable than pouring the wine directly from the bottle.
  9. To dial in the decanting times for the wines you prefer drinking, you just need to relax and experiment. Taste the wine and record your findings along with the timings. Once you dial the process in, you’ll be seamlessly getting the very most out of all your red wine.
  10. Never warm you wine once you have decanted it. Wine is extremely sensitive to variations in temperature.
  11. Wine storage is just as important as wine aeration. If you have limited space in the kitchen or man cave, consider a built-in wine cooler. For those who want to collect both red and white wine for regular consumption, dual zone wine coolers provide you with two independently controlled climate zones, perfect for chilling white wines more aggressively and red wines more mildly. Anyone looking to store bottles of wine as well as canned beverages like beer, soda, or water should think about investing in a wine and beverage cooler.
  12. Remember: the process of decanting wine is final, so think twice before you upend the wrong type of bottle into a decanter.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have discovered today why you should decant certain wines. You should also now have several methods of aerating wine up your sleeve and an awareness of what wines most need decanting.

Beyond this, we hope you find the closing tips helpful for getting the very most out of the flavor and aroma of your favorite wines.

Bookmark Slow Wine Magazine before you head off and be sure to come back soon. We are adding fresh content daily so we can share our love of wine with you. We will also be bringing you plenty of buying guides to help you more easily pick the best equipment to bring out the best in your budding wine collection.

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