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Why Decanting Wine Is So Important



Decanting a wine is the secret to unlocking a bottle’s full potential.  It is more than just putting juice in a glass vase.  In this article we talk about the most important reasons why you decant your wine and the benefits letting a wine breathe!

There are many different types of decanters out there in all different styles, sizes, and price points, but generally they all do the same thing.  The main reason for decanting a wine is to allow integration of oxygen, which is what people mean when they say to let your wine “breathe”

When you open a bottle of wine, it has been with nearly no exposure to oxygen for a long period of time.  When you open it, the wine will start to oxidize and the aggressive fruit notes and bitterness that many people may not like, will start to soften and the wine will become more approachable.  When the wine is in the bottle, the neck is very small and only has a small amount of oxygen, so it is a much slower process.  When you put the wine into a decanter, there is a larger surface area for the wine to have contact with air which means that it will soften up faster.  Sometimes you will see sommeliers in restaurants swirl the wine as well in the decanter, which does the same thing as when you swirl a wine in your glass, just with more wine!

The second reason that you would want to decant a wine is to separate the juice from anything else in the bottle.  There are many wines out there that are unrefined and unfiltered, which means that there may be some left over skins or other particles in the bottle.  Also, while a wine ages, Phenolic molecules combine with the tannin polymers and become what they call “sediment”.  When you have an older bottle of wine, you want to keep it in one place, either on its side or standing up for a period of time to allow the sediment to settle in one place.  You then slowly pour the wine into your decanter until 95% of the wine is out of the bottle.  The last 5% will be filled with the sediment, and is generally thrown out.

When talking about what wines that should be decanted, there is no real answer.  Other than cheaper white wines that are meant to just be light, crisp, and ice cold, literally any wine in the world can benefit from being in a decanter.  Red wines tend to be the most popular, but wines like Vouvray, White Burgundy, and Gewurztraminer can all benefit from oxygen being integrated.  Next time you open up a favorite bottle of wine, pour a glass out of the bottle and taste it, pour the rest in the decanter and let it breathe, that way you can see the benefits and how decanting a bottle of wine can create a completely different experience!