Decanting Wine – What is that? Why Would I Do It?

Decanting is pouring the wine into a vessel before consumption to facilitate aeration and sedimentation. This helps soften the acerbic nature of wine. Decantation of wine has been in vogue since the time of the ancient Romans.  Modern day wines are thoroughly clarified even at the expense of losing some of the flavor before bottling. But it is advisable to decant the wine for a while before drinking to ensure an enjoyable experience.

Decantation – Significance and Benefits

In times of old before the advent of sophisticated filtration equipment wine was bottled directly from the barrel. This resulted in unwanted solids finding their way into the wine and settling down as sediment in the bottle. Though the sediment does not pose any health hazard it adversely affects the visual beauty of the wine and also produces an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

It was therefore common practice to pour the wine into a container to segregate the murky liquid from the clear liquid. Sediment remained in the wine bottle while clear wine collected in the container that is referred to as decanter. A decanter that has a relatively less wide bottom and is small in size is referred to as carafe.

Red wine that is allowed to mature for a couple of years might accumulate sediment. Decanting wine provides the additional benefit of extolling the aroma and flavor of wine by exposing it to air.  Wide-bottomed decanter will expose the wine to more air due to large surface area.

If wine is being kept in a decanter only for the purpose of aeration the process is referred to as pour off. Care should be taken to remove the foil completely from the bottle before pouring wine into the decanter. Do not allow the wine to aerate for a long time as it will turn to vinegar. Sharp, tannic, and acidic taste of young and inexpensive wines will be softened due to aeration.

Wine should be allowed to splash for better contact with air while pouring it into the decanter. Wine has multiple flavors and aromas while the human tongue has the capacity to sense only four tastes. It is through the nose that the other aromas can be sensed and aeration helps recognize those by exposure to air.

Wine bottle should be placed upright for a day before it is decanted. This will result in sediment settling down at the bottom of the bottle. Remove the foil completely to ensure that you have a clear view of the neck of the bottle. Take a torch, lamp, or candle that will serve as a source of light. Uncork the bottle and slowly pour the wine into a decanter taking care to hold it above the source of light.

Observe for any solid matter and stop. After sometime you will find that clear wine collects in the decanter while sediment is left in the bottle that can be cast-off. Never