by Carol K., Wine Enthusiast Companies
Presenting wine in a stunning decanter offers aesthetic pleasure, but beyond the beauty, there is a greater reward. Better tasting wine. Letting your wine “breathe” softens harsh tannins and releases its full bouquet. Contrary to what you’ve seen, simply uncorking a bottle is not enoughâ€”the bottle opening is too small to let in a sufficient amount of air. Wine needs room to “stretch its legs.” Most wines ultimately benefit from the aromatic unfurling a good decanter provides.
When pouring wine into a decanter, some aeration naturally takes place. For most white wines and light tannic reds, this amount of aeration may be sufficient. Young tannic reds often need more air than this basic transfer allows. Pouring them through an aerating wine funnel is the best way to increase their aeration and soften their tannins.
Mature, full-bodied red wines rich with sediment also benefit from decanting, as do vintage ports. Unfiltered wines (a newer trend) especially need decanting. With the help of a screened funnel, decanting separates the sediment from wine, purifying its color and taste. (Sediment is the organic matter from grapes that collects in the bottle as wine ages).
Decanting a mature or unfiltered wine requires a little more care. Start by standing the bottle upright in a cool dark place for a day or two. This allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. Uncork the bottle, removing all of the foil; you will want a clear view of the inside of the bottleneck. It’s also a good idea to wipe the bottleneck clean, inside and out. Fit your decanter with a mesh-screened funnel and pour your wine in a gentle, steady stream, keeping a keen eye on the bottleneck. When you see unwanted sediment creeping in, you may be nearing the end of your pour. A quality screened funnel should catch any sediment that does sneak through.
To assure your wines are sufficiently aerated, open them before your guests arrive. A young wine requires a good hour or two in a decanter, while an older wine needs only 15 to 30 minutes to breathe.
How do you normally serve wine? Do you use a decanter? Is serving wine a grand event in your home? Leave a comment and share some stories!
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