Depending on the type of occasion, decanting can be simple or elaborate. The first step is determining the age and style of the wine to be served well in advance of serving.
Decanting of young wines
If the wine to be consumed has between 1 and 3 years of vintage on the label, it is considered a young wine and must be decanted by energetically introducing oxygen. This rapid approach to pouring wine is closest to a waterfall and exposes the wine to the maximum amount of air in the minimum amount of time, allowing the tannins to mellow and more complex aromas to emerge.
First, open the bottle carefully so you don't introduce cork particles into the wine, although if the cork breaks, it can be easily removed with a clean funnel and strainer. Next, pour the wine into the decanter , allowing the wine to splash onto the bottom and sides of the decanter, then shake the decanter vigorously to continue introducing oxygen into the wine. Stirring can last a few minutes or be carried out periodically during consumption to favor the aeration and expression of the wine. After shaking, use the decanter to serve in a suitable glass .
If the decanting vessel is not visually appealing for table service, rinse the wine bottle thoroughly and return the wine to its original bottle, using a clean funnel or carefully pouring freely. This return to the original bottle is called double decanting and is acceptable and sometimes preferred for a wide range of scenarios where multiple wines need to be decanted.
Decanting of old wines
When serving older wines or bottles over four years old, a gentle decanting approach is preferred. Vigorous movement and excessive aeration can disturb the sediment and impact more delicate aromas.
If the wine is of significant age (8 years or older) for most styles, it's helpful to have a funnel and fine strainer on hand to remove any particles. Then open the bottle, bearing in mind that old bottles may have dry or damaged caps. Then slowly pour into the decanter and make sure that no sediment and other particles migrate into the decanter. If a sediment is found during the pour, use the funnel and fine filter or stop the pour and let the bottle sit for a few minutes. This will allow the sediment to collect in the bottom of the bottle before you start pouring again.
Finally, gently swirl the container to slowly and carefully introduce oxygen into the wine over a period of two to three minutes. At this point the wine can be racked off and left open to let more oxygen through. If the wine is consumed outdoors or in a fragrant environment such as a restaurant or near an aromatic food display, the wine should be kept sealed to prevent odors or contaminants from entering the bottle.
Decanting according to age and style
The time a wine spends in a decanter depends a lot on its age and style. As a general rule, the older the wine, the shorter and smoother the racking approach should be:
- Young wine styles will generally benefit from a decanting time of several minutes to several hours, but will likely see only marginal improvement after being decanted for 6 hours or more.
- Lighter red wine styles such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cinsault, Lambrusco and other low tannin varietals may be decanted after 4-5 hours, as their more delicate aromas may fade.
- Sparkling wines left to decant for more than an hour will lose their characteristic effervescence.
- White wines will heat up and begin to degrade after a 3-4 hour period as a rule, although several popular and expensive styles of Chardonnay can benefit from an extended 4-5 hour decantation.
- Full-bodied red wines with tannic styles such as Barolo, Barbaresco and younger Cabernet Sauvignon become more approachable after extended decanting and have been known to improve with a 12-24 hour racking after being left in a container. their bottles.
- Older wines require a much more measured approach, as the introduction of oxygen quickly degrades their delicate aromas. With older wines it is preferable to opt for caution and limit prolonged racking as much as possible, longer than 4 hours.