Decanting A Young Red

Posted on Monday, Sep 13 2010 - 12:00 am

Most people only think of decanting old red wines where there is heavy sediment at the bottom of the bottle.  But old wines aside, why do people decant relatively young wines?  The short answer is oxygen exposure.

Decanting can make a chewy, tannic, young wine taste a bit suppler.  Pouring the wine from the bottle into the decanter exposes it more to the air.  This is the same principle as what happens over time as wines sit and age in the bottle.  However, decanting cannot duplicate the complex changes that come with cellaring a wine, but it can help bring out some of the wine's character that might be lost if it was just poured in a glass.

Before you decide to decant your wine, try it first.  It's possible the wine is great as it is.  But if you think there is more there or it tastes "tight" (when the flavors are indistinguishable from one another in a coiled and compressed way) go ahead and decant it.

When decanting, use a funnel that isn't made of reactive metal, such as aluminum.  Aluminum can react with the acids in the wine, imparting a metallic taste.  Wait about 30 minutes after decanting before pouring a splash into your glass.  You might be pleasantly surprised to find flavors and aromas you hadn't noticed originally. 

If you have wine leftover, do not leave it in the decanter.  Using a funnel, pour it back in the bottle and preserve it the way you normally preserve your opened wine, enjoying it the next day.

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