Decanting Wine | Why, When And How Do It

Craig Paskett
16th July 2020

Many red wines, and some white wines, benefit from decanting. You thought you loved that big and bold Bordeaux now, just wait until you let it breathe for a bit. If done properly it enhances both the taste, aroma and texture of the wine. Let’s look into the what, why and how’s of decanting wine, so you’ll know when to get the decanter out when you’re enjoying some vino. You won’t be disappointed.

What Is Decanting Wine

Decanting wine is simply the process of pouring (decanting) the contents from one vessel (usually a bottle) into another vessel (typically a decanter). In wine terms, a decanter is a glass vase like structure where the wine can ‘breathe’ before being consumed. Once the wine has had a chance to react to the contact with oxygen (referred to as ‘letting the wine breathe’), the wine can be served from the decanter. Some restaurants will decant back into the original bottle before serving.

Decanting Red Wine
Pouring Red Wine Into A Crystal Decanter
Why Do We Decant Wine

Decanting wine has a couple of purposes. Decanting separates the wine from the sediment which might have been transferred during bottling due to it being filled toward the bottom of the tank or barrel. This leaves the sediment in the wine makes wine taste gritty and more astringent. Slowly and carefully decanting wine ensures that the sediment stays in the bottle and you get a nice clear wine in the decanter, and subsequently in your glass. Older red wines and Vintage Ports naturally produce sediment as they age where as white wines rarely do.

Decanting wine also allows the wine to aerate, allowing the aromas and taste to be enhanced thus improving your drinking experience. Full bodied wines and highly tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Syrah will benefit from aeration. To find out more about aerating wine read in our blog on ‘what does aerating wine do‘.

How To Decant Wine

It’s safe to assume that a red wine will have accumulated some sediment after four to ten years in the bottle. Red wines prior to the 2018 vintage should be decanted even if this can’t be verified visually.

When decanting wine, stand the bottle upright for 24 hours before drinking. This allows the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle. Whilst you are waiting for this to happen, clean your decanter before removing the screw top or cork from the bottle. Once you have a clean decanter, pour the wine in slowly and steadily, without stopping. You can use a specialised wine filter to prevent unwanted sediment from entering your decanter. When you get to the bottom half of the bottle, pour even more slowly. Stop as soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle.

How Long Do Your Need To Decant Wine For

If your wines is less than 5 years old, decant your wine at least 30 minutes before drinking. Whereas older, more vigorous, full-bodied red wine should be decanted for an hour or more before serving. If you do, both the taste and aromas of your wine will be enhanced when you pour a glass. Surprisingly this can also apply to white wine.

Devices Used To Decant Wine

Wine decanter’s come in many shapes and sizes. The standard flat bottomed cheap glass flask with a narrow neck is the most commonly used and can be safely placed in a dishwasher. However the more expensive crystal decanter tend to be large in size and more artistic in shape. Care should be taken when cleaning your decanter. It is not recommended that you clean wine decanter’s in a dishwasher.

Different Types Of Wine Decanters
Different Styles Of Wine Decanters
Recommended Wine Decanters

We have been using decanters for years. As a result we have a pretty good idea of the best decanter products in the market. In our opinion, the best producer of crystal decanters is Riedel. The family-owned Riedel Wine Glass Company have been produced exquisite crystalware for centuries and were one of the first glassware manufacturers to specialise specifically in glassware for wine, so they know a thing or two about decanting wine. Riedel Wine Glass Company products are an absolute must have for any wine lover looking to up their wine appreciation game. We highly recommend looking into them further if you’re thinking of starting decanting wine.

If you’d like to learn more about the glassware experts, then we recommend your read our blog post on them. Follow the link here to read up on their history, their innovation and to browse their Decanter and Wine Glassware range. Link here: Riedel – The Wine Glass Company

Other Ways To Decant Wine

If you don’t want to invest in a proper decanter or don’t have the space for it, there are some other smaller more cost effective options on the market when looking at decanting wine. Vinturi and Ullo are two brands which make portable, small aerators and filters to help you decant and aerate wine quickly. We sell these in our online wine shop and you can purchase these for as little as £19.95.

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new about decanting wine. If you know someone who might also be interested in it don’t forget to share it via the links at the top of the page. We also have written a post on choosing the right glassware. You can read this here.


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