To Decant or Not To Decant

What does it mean when we decant a wine? Why do we decant wine? What are some reasons not to?

There are some strong opinions out there, as to whether or not you should decant a wine. So, I asked around to figure out the big question: To Decant or Not To Decant?

What does decanting mean?

When you google “decanting”, you’ll most likely get a result from a dictionary, which says decanting is: gradually pour (wine, port, or another liquid) from one container into another, typically in order to separate out sediment. An article from Wine Spectator also shows up, check it out here.

This pretty much sums up what decanting is. When you decant a wine, you pour it out of it’s bottle and into something else, typically a decanter. If you do not have one, you can use something else. I have once used a measuring cup (which I then used to pour the wine back into the bottle) or a vase. Shhh, don’t tell anyone!

Decant - to do or not to do?

Why does one decant a wine?

So, I asked around. Why do you decant a wine? Here are some of the most popular responses:

  • To remove sediment
  • Give the wine air
  • Depends on the wine

Now, some say you should not decant a wine. There can be a few reasons for this. Adding too much air can make the wine fade faster. An old, fragile wine can be damaged by adding too much air. Another popular opinion is that a winemaker would not have released a wine that was not ready to drink.

A nice rule of thumb is to first try the wine, and then decide for yourself whether or not it should be decanted. If the wine feels closed or inexpressive, adding some air can be a good way to open it up.

I do not have very strong feelings on the subject. For me, as with most winemakers, I’d say it depends. Depends on the vintage, the age, the wine making style. Some wines definitely benefit from getting some air. Others, maybe stay away. Refer to the rule of thumb if in doubt: try it first, and then see.

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