Very often I get questions about decanting wine. Which wines would benefit from decanting or why would one choose to decant. This week on Fix.com was a brilliant article written by Zachary Sussman outlining in nice brevity exactly the how, when, and why of decanting.
The link to the complete article is here.
Along with easy to read graphics, the content is clear and to the point delivering everything about decanting that the general consumer would be interested in knowing and understanding. Needless to say the article covered all the major points that I would have covered with incredibly snazzy graphics which are a bit beyond me at this point (Hey, I’m a winemaker. Not a graphics artist!)
To add a few thoughts however…
1) Decanting is extremely important for older bottles particularly if they have sediment. The graphic on the article does a great job of explaining how to pour off the sediment.
2) Decanting is critical for young wines that would have otherwise had a long life ahead of them. We’ll put aside the issue that you are opening a bottle “too early” because it’s up to you when to enjoy your wines. However decanting, as the article states, “is often necessary to allow the otherwise harsh tannins– the chemical compound found in red wines that gives them their specific grippy, mouth-puckering quality – to round out and become less severe.”
3) An empty bottle of wine can serve as a makeshift decanter in a pinch. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself without a decanter at a tasting and used an empty bottle of the same wine instead. Not as fancy but gets the job done.
Why does all this work you may ask? A 2012 journal article published in the Journal of Separation Science (Really? There is a whole journal devoted to this?) was able to detect 20 different organic acids and polyphenols in wine that showed different forms after decanting than they had before. The concentrations of these 20 compounds also decreased after decanting as well. They also noted that the duration of decanting, temperature, and light intensity would add to the effect of decanting overall.
Long story short? Read the article (Hopefully I haven’t stolen too much of his thunder) and experiment with decanting at home on your next bottle!
Image at top courtesy of Fix.com