Decanting Wine: Why

Why Decant wine?

There are two main reasons you decant wine:

1)      Letting the wine breathe

2)      Removing wine sediment

Which wines should be Decanted?
Red wines need to be decanted, more specifically red wines with age, unfiltered wines or more complex red wines.  White wine does not need to be decanted, but there are a few exceptions I will explain later.

Is Decanting a wine really necessary?
Absolutely!  Wine needs to breathe!   Is letting wine breathe a silly and snobby tradition? NO!
Wine is sensitive to oxygen.  It’s part of the reason why wine becomes vinegar.

***Wine is very sensitive to oxygen which is why winemakers do all they can to avoid contact with oxygen during the winemaking process***

Red wines are typically sealed for at least one year between bottle and aging vessel before reaching your glass, sometimes twenty or more years.

Decanting wine is necessary to separate the wine from sediment that settled on the bottom of the bottle.  Sediment occurs in wines that are unfiltered or partially filtered.  A little caveat is wine that has sediment is more than likely an older or more complex wine and needs to breathe as well.

How long do you decant wine?
Decant wine for one hour on average; it’s a safe time.

There is no standard decanting time and some need less or more than others.  Wines that are older and more complex need the longest decanting time.   

The older the wine, the longer you decant and the more complex the wine, the longer you decant.

The one exception are for more delicate wines. Older wines that are softer/lighter can be ruined by decanting too long.

I hate to go by price and I won’t completely, but let’s just say you don’t really need to decant your two-buck-chuck for much longer than fifteen minutes.

Most red wines benefit from decanting or some time to breathe. You can’t go wrong waiting an hour, it won’t hurt the wine even if that specific wine doesn’t need it, but there are wines you could decant for up to three hours.

Wines that benefit from long decanting times:
Barolo, Barbaresco, Cru Bordeaux, Burgundy (Grand and Premier Cru), Amarone, High-end Pinot Noir from Oregon and Cali, High-end Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots from Napa and Sonoma.

Decanting Test
Still think letting wine breathe is silly?  Here’s a simple test:

-Pour a glass of wine

-smell, taste then write down what you smell and taste

-make note of the tannin and acid levels

-wait fifteen minutes, go back and try it again.

Trust me, you’ll see a difference!

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