Anomaly Vineyards

A Berkeley, California transplant's view of becoming an Accidental Vintner.

Ranting About Decanting

The debate rages on. Should you decant? Does it really make a difference? Does a mayonnaise jar work as an emergency decanter? If I can afford mayonnaise, should I be able to afford a Waterford decanter?

We are here to put your questions to rest so that you can finally sleep at night! Put simply, decanting is the process of pouring wine from one container to another, the purpose of which is to aireate the wine. This is done with old wines and new wines, no discrimination, thank you very much. Decanting an older wine serves to remove the sediment that may reside in the bottom or sides of the wine bottle. Sediment won't hurt you, but it doesn't look good in your glass, and it may also increase some herbal or vegetal flavors that have built up in the bottle over the years, thereby masking the true aroma of the wine. Older wines may not hold their flavors for long after decanting, so the rule on old wines - decant and drink - do not linger!

Young wines are often decanted to soften the tannins which can give wine an astringent taste (you know the feel in your mouth when it feels like it is lined in paper—that's the feel of too much tannin.) With young wines, letting them sit for 30 minutes to an hour, or even longer depending on the structure of the wine, will serve to soften the wine and bring the fruit out - ever heard the term, "fruit forward?"

So, what are the rules? If you choose to decant, the decanter should hold approximately twice the amount of wine as the bottle. The bigger the surface area of the decanter for the wine, the more air can interact with the wine, and a better result will be obtained from decanting. So, no on the mayonnaise jar, even if it is wide-brimmed. When you pour the wine from the bottle to the decanter, stop pouring if you begin to see cloudy wine or dark particles in the wine. The sediment should stay in the bottle.

Some people even double-decant, but that's another blog! Chantico.

2 comments:

  1. Mike said...

    I've ranted a little about decanting myself!

    FYI I can find no evidence that aeration due to decanting softens tannins (see http://shirazshiraz.blogspot.com/2005/04/decanting-day-9-this-topic-has-been.html, and http://shirazshiraz.blogspot.com/2005/07/at-last-some-sound-advice-on-decanting.html).

    Mike

    August 29, 2005  

  2. Anomaly Vineyards said...

    Thank you for the info!

    August 30, 2005  

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