Nov 12, 2017

(Vinepair) - Decanting isn’t just for the nobles on “Downton Abbey” or pricey bottles in fancy restaurants.  Like many seemingly precious wine practices (aggressive swirling, audible sniffing), decanting has a practical explanation.

The primary reason to decant any wine is aeration. By pouring wine into another vessel, the juice gets exposed to oxygen rapidly. This “wakes up” flavors and aromas that have been locked in the bottle for years or even decades, making the wine in question livelier and more interesting to drink. In this manner, decanting is simply a more intense version of swirling your glass.

Generally, this is useful for young wines. Bold reds like Malbec or Shiraz become much more expressive with a touch of oxygen. Most experts advocate for a vigorous decanting — air is your friend here — so splash the bottle into the decanter and really shake things around.

With young wines, it’s O.K. to serve them immediately after decanting or allow the wine to breathe for a few hours. Because young wines have bold flavors, extended time in a decanter (up to four hours but not overnight) won’t damage the aromas or flavors of the wine.

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