Definition - What does Decanting mean?

Decanting is the process of pouring wine into another container to separate out any sediment that has formed, and to aerate the wine to enhance the aromas and flavors.

Wines both young and old can benefit from the complexities and enhanced taste that comes from decanting. Decanting cheaper wines evens out the aromas and tones down the acids, making it smoother and more palatable. Wines with a big presence, such as cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, petite syrah and malbecs, as well as more robust Italian wines develop their distinct flavors more quickly when decanted.

WineFrog explains Decanting

Many debates rage over which wines benefit from decanting and the proper procedure to accomplish it. The general rule is that it’s ok to decant anything you like with a few basic guidelines.

Decanters should be crystal clear with few decorative features to help with the wine’s visibility. Decanters should not be cleaned with detergent, which can leave behind a residue that can alter the taste of wine. Instead, clean a decanter with a mixture of crushed ice and coarse salt.

Young wines contain little to no sediment, so the process of decanting them is fairly simple. Pour the wine carefully into a decanter and allow it to rest for at least 20-30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors and aromas of a young wine to develop and become more complex.

Older wines require more care when decanting. They are more likely to have sediment, but because it has already been aging in the bottle, it does not need much more exposure to oxygen. Keep the bottle upright for a day or two before opening to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom. To decant, slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Position the bottle over a light source at the neck to see when the cloudy sediment comes to the top. Discard the inch or so of wine in the bottle that contains the sediment. The timing to decant an older bottle of wine is a little trickier than a young wine. It should be poured into a decanter anywhere from 1 to 8 hours for 10 to 20 year old bottles, especially Barolo and Barbaresco, which recommends a decanting time of 6 to 8 hours. Bottles that are older than 20 years generally are decanted shortly before serving.

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