Sunday Read: Why Decant?

A while back, my blogger friend Jean, the Red Wine Diva, pointed out in a comment that I was decanting quite a lot of my wines. That got me thinking, and doing a bit more research. The classic reason why one decants wine, especially red wine, is to get rid of the sediment that might form in older bottles of wine. Now, because I don’t own any really expensive or fancy or very aged red wines, there seems to be no obvious reason for me to decant.

And yet I do. Especially younger red wines. For me, it makes sense: these wines are often still very closed and tight, with strong tannins that had not time to settle. In my experience, airing them gives them room to expand and show more of their underlying flavors. It is a bit like ageing the wine fast. I know many people use aerators for that, but I have none in my house. I am fine with decanting and waiting. There is also a magic to that.

I also tend to decant older Rieslings (eight years plus) in order to give them some exposure to air so that it can open up after the time in the bottle. It is a delicate balance, just like with older reds, because too much air can kill them, too. So I make a habit of trying the wine first and then deciding whether it needs air or not.

During my research, I found this article by Sandra Jordan (it is an excerpt from her book on decanting) on Epicurean. I thought it summarized the pros and cons quite well. I hope you will find it helpful.

Have a great Sunday, as always!

Sandra Jordan: Why Decant? The Risks and Rewards of a Ritual

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25 thoughts on “Sunday Read: Why Decant?

  1. Right there with ya. Decant Decant Decant :)

  2. […] link on Foodista’s website directs you to my decanting thoughts published as a Sunday Read earlier. I sent them an email and hope they’ll remedy […]

  3. Sometimes we don’t finish a bottle in one night (I know I can’t by myself). So I decant by pouring “2 counts” of wine in my glass. I actually count “1, 2” as I pour so there’s just enough wine to give it a good swirl to open it up. And sometimes I pour 3 counts and don’t swirl. Instead I let the wine open up as I sip and enjoy how the wine seems to change how it tastes on my palate as it begins to open up with each sip.
    I think the only reason I have an aerator versus a decanter is because it fits in my kitchen drawer. Decanting is rather romantic though.

    • I love your approach. It is so easy to forget that wine evolves over the course of an evening and to gulp it down fast might actually deprive us of some very enjoyable times with it. I do agree with storing the decanter being a bit of a challenge…:) Thanks for stopping by!

  4. What a pity that decanting doesn’t help to open people too! :D
    But seriously, I totally agree with your point!

  5. Matt says:

    We have been making wine accessories for years and debated whether to create a decanter as well. We decided against it and decided to focus on other products like our wine thermals. So for now we are decanter free at (although we still think there is something romantic about the whole idea!)

    • Matt, thanks for stopping by and sharing! Just checking out your site…maybe you should consider a decanter..

      • Matt says:

        It really isn’t that bad of an idea. Decanter and wine thermals would look fantastic together in a gift box. Now I am off to study decanter design, if you have any good references for design, please feel free to forward them on!

        • Yeah, I can imagine your products working extremely well with decanters. Especially given that I decant older white wines, I do have an interest in keeping these still a bit chilled. For reds, there might not be that much of a need.

          Regarding design, Riedel is putting out the most ambitious and crazy designs ( I prefer the simplicity and sturdiness of Schott Zwiesel decanters.

  6. Fascinating suff! I’ve been reading a lot of articles on how knowing the price of a wine affects the way people rate it. Most conclude that anticipation is a huge factor in how much we enjoy anything, so decanting definitely pulls some deep psychological weight. i.e. if it’s decanted it must be worth decanting and is therefore awesome. Our minds fill in the blanks. Thanks for passing along the article!

    • Oh, sure. I am glad you enjoyed the read. I guess having made decanting a rather usual and pedestrian exercise in our wine “diet” has taken out some of the expectation…but I agree that expectations do play a huge role. It’s why I love blind tastings so much.

  7. caspernick says:

    It is mystical to pull out a candle and perform this ritual, it’s been a while. Perhaps next weekend will warrant a delve into the cellar!

  8. aglassofwine says:

    Have you tried blending the wine to “super decant” them? I think it might be fun to conduct a tasting where we try to blind taste a bottle of wine that has been aerated, decanted, blended, and just opened, to see if we can taste the differences. :)

  9. There is something romantic about decanting and waiting.

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