Decanting wine is an easy process that will remove any sediment, or gritty residue, from that special bottle of wine you have been saving. While harmless, sediment is a very unappealing part of drinking aged wines. But don’t pour your wine down the sink! Knowing how and why to decant wine will keep all of that grit out of your glass.
Why decant wine?
Mature wines, especially reds, acquire sediment during the aging process; the longer the process the more sediment in the bottle. By decanting these wines, you’ll remove that sediment and give your wine a chance to ‘breathe’ or reach its optimum drinking perfection.
What you’ll need
All you need is your trusty corkscrew, your decanter, a little bit of patience, and a source of light. You can use a tea light or a lamp, so long as you can easily hold the bottle’s neck to the light.
What can I use for a decanter?
A decanter can be any kind of large receptacle, from a fancy glass wine decanter or carafe to a simple pitcher. Depending on whether you are serving the wine as part of a formal dinner or over patio conversation, you can use almost anything in your kitchen.
Three easy steps to decant your wine
Step One: Once you are ready to open your wine, remove the cork and all forms of wrapping around the neck; you’ll want to be able to see the wine as you are pouring it out.
Step Two: Holding the bottle neck up to the light, slowly begin to pour the wine into the decanter. Be sure that you hold the bottle with just a slight tilt in order to pour just a little at a time. This will take a few moments. Keeping a close eye on the neck, especially as you near the bottom third of the bottle, stop pouring when sediment begins to appear at the neck.
Step Three: Allow the wine to sit for a time so that any trace of sediment will settle on the bottom of your decanter. This will give time for the wine to breathe which means it oxidizes with the air, bringing out the best aromas.
When to decant
Generally you should decant your wine about half an hour before serving. Notice over the course of the next few hours as the subtleties of the wine are released while it continues to mix with the air.
Decanting new wines – the Hard Decant
You can decant new wines as well as old, but for very different reasons. Most new or young wines have had the sediment filtered out, and they haven’t been around long enough to form sediment. Known as the hard decant, simply pour or ‘splash’ your bottle of wine into a decanter. This aerates a young wine, exposing it to oxygen in order to release the delicate aromas. Usually a wider bottom decanter is best to allow more air to mingle with the wine. After about half an hour, it’s ready to drink and you will appreciate the full flavors of your wine.
Unable to finish the entire bottle?
You can easily store your decanted wine by sealing it and placing in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a couple of days. You will not need to repeat the decanting process at your next serving.
Use for that sediment – it’s perfectly safe
That sediment can still be put to good use; use it in your gravy. As unappealing as it is, the sediment is perfectly safe to consume, blending easily into your gravy drippings. This works particularly well if you are serving dark roast meats such as beef or wild game.
Knowing how and why to decant wine is a must for every dinner host. Decanting wine will keep the grit out of your wine glass. To enjoy that special wine you have been saving, dust off that bottle and decant your way to dinner party success.
Looking for more tips on serving or decanting wine? Check out the following: