Key to Decanting Wine: Let It Breathe


Before taking a sip of that splendid Beaujolais or Cabernet, be sure to decant it and let it aerate. This simple act of pouring wine into a container or glass where it can sit for a while helps bring out its full flavor and delicate aroma.

Say, “When”
Knowing which wines to decanter takes patience and practice. Full-bodied or tannic wines, such as Syrah, Syrah blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet blends, benefit most from decanting. Some people believe that simply swirling the wine around your glass enables sufficient aeration. Others, however, find that most wines, except perhaps older Burgundy wines, should first be decanted.

The fine art of decanting
Decanters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from sleek to fancy. Follow a few simple steps to separate the sediment from the wine.

• Keep the bottle upright for a full day to help sediment slide to the bottom.

• Before drinking, uncork the wine and wipe the neck of the bottle.

• Pour half the bottle steadily into the decanter and the remainder more slowly.

• Stop if you notice any sediment or dust near the neck of the bottle or the wine begins to appear cloudy. Otherwise, decant and let it sit a bit before drinking.

How long is long enough?
Once you’ve poured the wine into a special decanter or glass, how long you should wait before drinking becomes a matter of taste. Allow enough time for the wine to achieve full flavor, but not so long that it begins to fade. An older wine may require less time, around a half hour or so. A newer, more full-bodied red or white wine can breathe for an hour or even longer. Just be careful not to let it aerate too long or it could oxidize and taste unpleasant and bitter.

Champagne and sparkling wine
These days, decanting Champagne and other sparkling wines appears to be the trendy thing to do, especially with older vintages. It also helps deflate some of the fizz for those who’d prefer that their bubbly delight their palate without tickling their nose. Experiment and see what tickles your fancy.

Voilà! Now, enjoy. Cheers!