What are your guidelines for decanting?

Ive searched this boards history on this subject and failed to find any discussion on across the board policies for decanting [or not] any wine, young and old, white and red, sparkling and still. Perhaps there are no across the board policies as it may come down to the specific wine, varietal, vintage, producer, handling, storage, etc.

My interest is beyond sediment filtering and mainly has to do with allowing for a wine to be as open as possible for serving and drinking. Im experimenting with younger sparkling wines now and Im seeing an enhancement in some instances, but need more time to track this over the long haul.

Ive heard one parameter used by some is: decant for 1/2 hour for every 1 year of bottle maturity, but Im thinking this is subject to modification for reasons listed above.

I know better than to decant really old wines to avoid them falling apart before even pouring them.

I`ve been decanting almost every wine that is 7 years old or younger, longer for younger [1-2 hours +] and shorter for older [1 hour max].

What guidelines do you use and why?

I don’t have any guideline, I just try to sense (or get an idea from CT or WB) how much a given bottle might need it.

And I find myself doing it less and less the last few years, partly because I just don’t have time when I get home from work or whatever to do a long decant before we have dinner and wine, partly because I drink a lot of pinot and chard that doesn’t seem to need it, partly just because I’m not usually seeing the benefit. I’m transitioning into more “let it develop in the glass and while the bottle is open” and “see how it is on day two and three” mode, and not using the decanters as much.

i decant when i want to, have time to, care enough to… i don’t drink enough balla wines to worry too much about a ‘regimen’ for decanting… each day is a different wine, and a different routine. :wink:

I have no set guidelines and approach each wine independent of one another.

With the use of today’s social media outlets (primarily Twitter for me) I often ask the winemaker or an assistant directly what their recommendation is. For a 2011 Napa Cab consumed this past weekend, I was told to pop the cork early afternoon and then decant 30 minutes before enjoying with dinner. Worked out beautifully!

Chris, I used to take the same position of using my intuition/ sense of need for decanting. In the past few years, Ive been decanting almost everything even if its just before serving such as when I get home from work. Like you, I drink a lot of pinot and have not found a definitive posture to take either way, but I`m still “researching” it. I do find sometimes there is a funk in the nose that blows off faster and more complete when decanted as opposed to just popping the cork.
I have tried for many years of letting it develop in the glass as you are, but how many times have I seen dramatic shifts that I suspect would have already occurred in a decanter and provided a more even experience in the glass.

Great idea to contact the one who should be in the know; however, I`m only inclined to do this when I have many bottles or cases of a particular wine as opposed to 1 or 2 bottles.

My conviction over the last years: do NOT decant before the wine had enough opportunity to breathe slowly.

Means: first open the bottle, taste a tiny bit, put it back … and let the wine breathe and rest for several hours - I´d say 4-7 …
only THEN devant if necessary, either for removing sediment … or if you think further airation is necessary.

So you prohibt that the structure will get hard and dry by immediate decanting … which does often occur by quick decanting, splash decanting or double decanting …

A wine closed for years in a bottle needs tme to get used to the air again …

Just my 0.02 … often said …

And well said. Thank you.

I almost never decant. But there are some exceptions when I know the producer makes wines in a very reductive style.
A good wine should evolve over an evening. So sometimes when I know that a certain wine evolves well in the glass I’ve tried to decant it to get more instant gratification, but the wine is invariably worse for me.

I’ve been heading in the opposite direction. Obviously, this is all a matter of personal taste, but I started noticing that almost all of the tasting notes for red wines that I was about to drink indicated that the wine was as good or better the second day, i.e., lot’s of air. So I starting decanting almost everything. My own experience has usually confirmed this sentiment; within reason, it seems to me that most fine wines improve with substantial air, young and old. Apart from Nebbiolo (and Madeira, which doesn’t fit into this discussion), I don’t drink much truly old wine (say 30+ years), but I have had very few quality wines that “fell apart” because of gentle decanting and a few hours in the decanter.

I do think that establishing a general rule for decanting regardless of the wine is a fool’s errand. Nebbiolo, my first love, is almost always better with a LOT of exposure to air, at least when drinking wines that are 10+ years old, which I’m finally getting to the point of being able to do. This holds true even for sound bottles that are 40+ years old. While my experience with such wines is limited, my experience seems to reflect the wisdom of the more experienced Nebbiolo-heads on the board.

On the other hand, most Chardonnays seem to open up almost immediately upon decanting but start to reveal oxidative notes after a few hours in the decanter at close to room temperature. I decant some but not all white wines (Rieslings and sulphury Chardonnays seem to benefit most) but typically less than an hour before pouring into glasses.

Others’ experiences and tastes likely differ from mine. There are probably at least 50 threads on decanting on WB, and lots of disagreement. The kicker for me was that Pinot – the wine that people most often say they prefer to pour straight from the glass and let it evolve there – seems to benefit a lot from decanting in most cases, while still going through substantial evolution in the glass. Obviously, I could drink the same glass of wine for 6 hours to get the straight from the bottle experience plus all of the subsequent evolution that decanting kick-starts, but that’s not real life.

Agree. In those cases where I contact the producer, I typically have purchased for several years and in more significant quantities.

I’ve heard one parameter used by some is: decant for 1/2 hour for every 1 year of bottle maturity, but I`m thinking this is subject to modification for reasons listed above.

Where does one find rules like that?

Like others, I don’t have any guidelines. I just try to get a sense from my own experience how much a given bottle might need.

If I don’t have any experience, that bottle becomes my experience.

I also try to let my wines slow ox before opening. for young wines, I often let them sit open in the cellar for three days before serving. I do decant for sediment and if I need to I will decant the wine to try to get them to open up. No guidelines on that as it depends on the wine.

With old vintage Madeira, the rule of thumb is one day in decanter for every decade in glass, remembering most of the aging occurs in wood.

Thanks Loren, I like your approach. When I started this thread, I was more inclined to think no guideline is the best guideline OR the best guideline is based upon the individual bottle and all of the factors that contribute to a decision; nonetheless. I wanted to get further feedback from the board and the replies already are pretty much all over the place with the decision still being an individual`s preference.

Greg, Id never heard the rule I quoted prior to last Monday. It came from a serious collector who I respect quite highly in so far as wine knowledge and many decades of experience are concerned. Having said that, I m not inclined to embrace this as MY rule.

I think “shit, maybe I should have thought to decant this!”, then drink the wine over time.

This about sums up my view…though I almost never drink wines over 30 years old, I do drink many from 15-30…years old, rarely any under 10-12.

I’ve had too many “better the next day” experiences with red wines of all ages (I drink mostly Burgundy and Piemonte wines for reds)…and also white Burgundies, especially Chablis (and Condrieus) that were better the next day or even thereafter to be afraid of aeration in decanter. (And, I think, as I’ve said ad nauseam, this “slowO”: just pulling the cork and letting the wine “breathe” does basically nothing much more than “pop and pour”.)

I always save a little (usually a full glass) of every wine I’ve opened over the last 15 years+ to check out the next day, to write up notes for my inventory program. And, I am still surprised at how much better some supposedly fragile wines taste the next day (or after) in decanter. (Had a 1995 Nuits St. Georges 1er cru from Daniel Rion that blew me away last week with its improvement; and a 1988 Maume Gevrey 1er that was much better this am than last night…after 5-6 hours in decanter before dinner last night.) I’ve also had wines that weren’t as good the next day…but not usually Burgs or nebbiolo-based wines: Bordeaux/zins/Rhones…to have a hard and fast “rule.”

It’s all a big guess…but my guideline is that if I don’t have time for a substantial (e.g., 4-7 hour) aeration, I’d rather pop and pour (or pull the cork) than aerate for a limited time only, without option for more. That, for me, usually results in a wine that goes back into its shell.) And, during an aeration…i do , as regularly as possible, evern 1.5-2 hours…check the aromas and taste the wine, if I can, to see what’s going on, and to put the wine in bottle to wait, if necessary.

Whites, in my experience, are almost even more durable than reds in that regard…whether from the Cote de Beaune, Chablis or Alsace (or Condrieu), which is pretty much where my whites come from.

And…certainly, many people are skeptical about long aeration…but…I’ve shown enough of those who were skeptical…that, from the “next day” effect…it can happen, even if they don’t change their practices.

I never decant and rarely bother with a glass: I just pull the cork, put the bottle to my lips and suck the sucker down!

if its something special I email the winery and ask for their recomendation