Decanting 101

Hi All,

I’m new to wine and searched the board and really could not find a good discussion of the proper way to decant.

Is it a simple as just pouring from the bottle to a nice decanter?

Also I am confused about the entire decanting issue.

Does decanting have to do with introducing air to wine or removing sediment? Or both? Doesn’t an aerator “decant”?
What about all that sediment in my older wines? How do I get rid of that?
What are some of the pros/cons of decanting?

Thank you

I decant almost all of my wines. I like decanters with a wide bottom “bowl” as opposed to the slimmer, more cylindrical bottles. I do not perform additional aeration, so I like the larger wine surface area that I get with my decanter.

While there can be a lot of mystery and mystiqe to decanting, there does not need to be. Simply…

  1. Properly cellar the wine and make sure that it has been sitting in its side for long enough for sediment to collect on the bottom (what is now the side) of the bottle.
  2. Do not shake your bottle up when moving it from the cellar or when opening it. Decanting is not “fileting” the wine. If you get cork in it, pour it through a wire strainer.
  3. Put a nice light source behind the bottle so you can look through the bottle and see the wine that is entering the neck of the bottle well. A candle works nice and is “hot” (pun intended), but a small table light works also.
  4. SLOWLY pour the wine into the decanter. You can watch the wine inside the bottle as you do this and watch for sediment. It should collect in the shoulder of the bottle and not enter the neck. STOP pouring when there is so much sediment collected that there is a danger that sediment will escape the neck and get into your decanter. I always stop when there is a little wine left in case the sediment is so fine that I cannot see it.

In practice, on the wines I drink ($15 - $50) I end up with half a finder width to a full finger width left in the bottom of the bottle.

The decanting will remove the sediment and begin the oxidation process. Pouring through a vinturi or similar device will increase the air contact, but does not do anything for sediment.

Pat Darby

Welcome, Pat and Tom! Hope you enjoy it here.

To add something to Pat’s post, since Tom says he’s new to wine: many wines are filtered, so don’t have any sediment. Thus it isn’t necessary to decant them to remove sediment. The other reason for decanting is to aerate the wine, ie mix in some oxygen which can help to “soften” it by making the tannins less obvious. Adding oxygen can change the flavor significantly, depending on the wine.

Another way to do this is to open the wine and pour off a little, so the exposed surface is larger, then just leave it for some time (an hour or many hours, depending). This is often called “audouzing” after François Audouze, a great expert in old wines, who uses it to improve flavor, on the grounds that it works better than decanting, which is somewhat more brutal to the wine.

Thanks for the welcome and the very helpful information!

Do the vinturi work? Or is it just marketing? Do they give you the same result as decanting for a few hours? For young wines of course.

My opinion: It “works” in that it changes the wine. But, I don’t really like it. It’s most noticable with big, young wines. Pour a glass, and then pour another through the vinturi. Do this blind if possible. I actually like the progression of wine from the pop of the cork over hours. I got it as a gift, and other than testing it out, I’ve never used it.

Sounded like another one of many wine gimics. Don’t know if I’ll bother picking one up.

But, while you said you (Les) “…like the progression of wine…hours” do you think the taste is better than using a Vinturi?

Realized my post was a bit disjointed in reading it back. What I was trying to say is that the Vinture doesn’t add anything for me. I prefer experiencing the progression of a wine without gimicks.

Maybe I’ll just flip a coin. :slight_smile: I most probably won’t both. I usually don’t go for gimmicks. I mean all the different wine tech didn’t even exist 10 years plus. Did people not enjoy wines without them? :slight_smile: Might as well just stick with the tried and true. Use a decanter if you believe in aerating and removing sediment (older wines)

+1 [cheers.gif]

Are there any wines that should just absolutely NOT be decanted? I imagine white wines don’t get much benefit from it, but anything that might do more damage than good?

If in doubt decant!! :slight_smile: Young or old wines. Difference is with young wines you’re just aerating the wine. With old wines you are both areating and removing sediment.

The only wines you don’t decant are champagnes. :slight_smile:

A lot of old wines (think maybe '20’s, 30’s, 40’s Burgundies for example) can fall apart after opening quite quickly, and pretty much die in the glass in a very short time.

Generally these are better with a method referred to as “Adouzing” where a small amount is poured off and tasted, and the wine then left for say 6 hours (perhaps with the cork just gently in), in which time it can open and fill out. Wines that appear near dead can be quite drinkable with this method as they seem to settle and come into their own, whereas decanting them would have generally not been a success…

There is also various arguments about younger Burgundy’s and decanting, but in general there really isn’t much else apart from very old wines a decant won’t help, or at least not really hurt, whites included…

Thanks Paul and Andrew!

Next investment…a good decanter!

Also got mine as a gift, and other than testing it out with some new wines have never used it in lieu of decanting.

From August 2009, a Vinturi test…

So I used my new Vinturi with the 2007 Carlisle Sonoma Co Zinfandel. Thx to my buddy Joel I had my 1st glass of Carlisle and I must say I am impressed. Wine-like Zin, not jammy with really nice color that is just a shade dark thanks to 6% Alicante plus a really expressive nose that screams Zin. Wine is mouth-coating, has delicious fruit and a medium finish. This wine is really good stuff and not expensive.

Now on to the experiment.

Used identical stems for the initial Vinturi trial and popped and poured one glass like I was thirsty and then one thru the V. I tried like crazy but could not stop wine from leaking thru the airholes of the Vinturi, what is up with that? The regular glass had an expressive nose filled with that essence of Zin described by many as “brambly” fruit. I have no clue what “brambly” is but I know it when I smell it. Wine had a mid-palate attack and some heat noted on the finish. Vinturi glass had a definitely more subtle nose and in the mouth the wine was like 7/8th Carlisle and 1/8th Dasani, the attack was limp! The finish, however, was lengthened and the heat completely gone from the Vinturi glass.

Overall I’ll vote for P&P over Vinturi on this night.

Someone might disagree with me on this, but I believe that white wines can benefit from decanting.
I have had eye opening experiences with decanting young Spätlese Rieslings from Mosel.(and other Prädikats for that matter)
Also decanted a 2007 Schloss Johannisberger Kabinett from Rheingau two weeks ago. I gave it about 2 hours in the decanter which seriously helped the wine open up.

Whites can benefit. Older wines usually don’t, but sometimes do (and gthis will vary by region, vintage etc.). Very old wines almost never do.

The vinturri is probably useful for those situations where you’re drinking a glass only (think of a dinner party where you are doing a bottle per course among 6-8 people) and didn’t open and decant the wine ahead of time. However, like Glenn’s note above shows, it is often about a trade off vs an absolute better and worse comparison.

Much of this is simply experience. Say you buy 6 bottles of a wine. You pop and pour one. You note that it was much better toward the end of the bottle. If you open another bottle fairly soon after the first, you can assume that they’re in troughly the same shape, so you might decant it. If you open it 10 years later, draw on your experience of decade old wines of the same type.

The main thing to avoid is decanting and sending over the hill very old wines. ASide from that, you can’t really ruin a wine no matter what you choose re" decanting.

I think I can offer a guide about how to decant red wines properly: 1.) Take a candle and light it 2.) Take a decanter (should have enough volume at the bottom) 3.) Remove the cork an let the wine get some air for at least 1 hour (to check whether the wine got enough air, pour a glass and watch the edge where the wine touches the glass) 4.) pour the bottle into the decanter and hold it above the candle (this is meant for leaving the brew in the bottle) 5.) do it slowly for not having any brew in the decanter

Is it possible to use a filter/strainer when using a decanter, at that point wouldnt the sendiment not make it though?

What do you do when decanting very mature wines only to remove sediment? Do you just wash the sediment out of the original bottle and place the wine back in it or is it common to use a separate container?