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What is Decanting?

Posted by Amanda on 9/2/10



Decanting is the removal of sediment while allow the wine to breathe. Not all wines need to breathe so decanting is not something you should do with every wine. The only wines that need decanting are older red wines, young wines, and white wines do not decanting in most instances.

Let’s start with the sediment. When you look at a bottle of wine, you may realize it but there are all kinds of things inside that bottle including grape skins and other organic items. All wines naturally have these small particles. As the wine ages, these particles settle out of the wine. The older red wines have more contact with the grape skins thus more sediment.

The way to remove the sediment is by choosing a decanter and slowly pouring the wine into the decanter. Be sure to keep the same side down that was down during the aging process while you slowly pour. The reason is that this action will ensure that you are mixing up the sediment in the wine. You do not want any of the sediment to end up in the decanter, so pour slowly, and watch closely.

Now, you may believe that it is pour a glass of delicious red wine. The answer is no. Now, you should let the wine breathe for a short amount of time. This is a part of decanting that older red wines need in order to provide you with the true aroma and taste of the wine. Your tongue only has the ability to taste four types of tastes; you need the aroma in order to enjoy the rest of the exquisite flavor that is found in these older red wines. As the wine molecules mix with the air molecules, the aroma of the wine as well as the taste wakes up from the long aging process. The older red wines should sit in the decanter for at least thirty minutes up to one full hour before you take that first sip.

On the other hand, you do not want your wine to sit for eight hours or it will become too warm and will not be as pleasant for your palate. At about the eight-hour mark, your taste buds will begin to distinguish a vinegar flavor, which is certainly going to overwhelm the milder nice flavors. If you have not finished the wine by the end of the meal it is time to seal it up and place it in the refrigerator.

Remember, just uncorking an older red wine will not allow it to breathe. The decanter has a larger surface area that allows the wine molecule and the air molecules to mix. The best-shaped decanter will have a large opening that allows for more surface air.


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