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