Is decanting really necessary, or is it just wine pomp and show?
Let’s start at the beginning, where all good yarns begin!
Decanting wine is essentially a process of pouring (decanting) the contents from one vessel (typically a bottle) into another vessel (typically a decanter). Usually the wine is then served from the decanter, however sometimes – like in a restaurant for example — it may be decanted back into the original bottle before being served.
Decanting can seem like it’s being done for show, and may feel somewhat intimidating to some. Understanding which wines need it, when, and how to do it can eliminate some of the mystery and be cause for good conversation and wine instead.
Separating The Sediments
As older wines age, particular red wines and vintage ports, they naturally produce sediments, also known as “dregs” (the industry technical term). While being offered the dregs of something could result in wearing your wine instead of drinking it, in some instances winemakers actually add these on purpose.
The sediments are a combination of yeast cells as well as leftover grape solids (stems, seeds, skin), tartrates (tartaric acid crystals), and any other solids leftover from the winemaking process. Stirring up these colour pigments and tannins that bond together and separate from the wine will cloud the wine’s appearance and may give it a bitter flavour and gritty texture. While consuming wine this way isn’t harmful, it’s definitely less enjoyable.
So, decanting predominantly serves two purposes – 1) it separates the wine from any dregs that may have formed, and 2) it aerates the wine in the hope that its aromas and flavours will be more captivating when served.
7 Steps To Decant Like a Pro
- Leave the bottle upright for 24 hours or more before serving so the sediment can drop to the bottom, making it easier to separate
- Ensure your decanter is rinsed clean and ready to receive the wine
- Decork or remove the top and wipe the bottle neck clean
- Placing a light under the neck of the bottle, like a candle or flashlight will help you see the sediment when it reaches the neck of the bottle
- Pour the wine into the decanter slowly and steadily, preferably maintaining a continuous flow, and slowing down some more when you get to the second half of the bottle
- As soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle, or if the wine all of sudden changes colour and becomes cloudy, then stop.
- Best to discard the small amount of sediment filled liquid in the bottom and enjoy the wine with your favourite meal. Great company is recommended but not essential!
What about you – do you prefer to decant? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And remember to browse our website, we love to have you come for a yarn at the Estate!
Image Source: Jp Valery