Quick Recipes and Easy

To Decant or Not to Decant?

To decant or not to decant? The fantastic wine experts disagree. If you are a wine newbie, who do you listen to?

There are two main reasons why we might decant wine. One is to get rid of sediment. The other is to “aerate” the wine or allow it to breathe, so releasing the aromas that have been trapped in the bottle. (Some would say there is a third reason, the most vital – the attractive appearance of the glowing red decanter on the table!)

You may have heard people tell you that you can let the wine “breathe” by removing the cork an hour or two before serving. This really has no effect at all. The neck of the bottle is too narrow to allow any air to get to it.

So if you want the wine to breathe, you have to decant. The question is, when? Yes, it does release the aromas. The problem is, by the time you drink it, in many cases the aromas have gone for excellent!

General advice that seems to work is:

· Young tannic red wines – decant at least an hour before serving and experiment with periods of up to six hours. This applies to wines like red Bordeaux, Cabernets, Rhone reds, heavy Zinfandels, Australian Shiraz, Portuguese reds.

· Young red Burgundy, Pinot Noirs and Spanish wines – decant just before serving.

· Fully mature wines – also decant just before serving, but don’t be in a rush to end off the decanter! Just give it as long as it needs.

· Stand the wine upright for a day or two before you are going to serve it. This is the best preparation for decanting.

· You can use a fine strainer to remove the sediment. But this isn’t necessary as long as the sediment is spread throughout the wine through decanting.

Of course, decanting just means pouring from the bottle into another receptacle. So for wines that should be decanted just before serving, you can just pour them straight into the glass from the bottle. But of course, a decanter does look better on the table than a bottle!

Or how about a jug? For me, there are few greater delights on earth than sitting at a table by the water’s edge at a Greek taverna, with a jug of local wine (and an ordinary tumbler to drink it from!) No arguments about decanting there!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who like wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at myvintagewine.com myvintagewine.com

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