The process of wine decantation is designed to make your wine taste better since it allows sediments to get separated. The reason behind this is that sediments taste unpleasant, so performing wine decantation will drastically improve your wine’s taste.
Apart from that, this process can also improve its aroma. With the use of a wine decanter, the wine will get exposed to the air in a process is called aeration, causing its strong smell to evaporate which will then lead to a better aroma.
In case you’re wondering, a wine decanter is another container of wine that is often made of glass. The purpose of this container (wine decanter) is to separate the sediments of the wine by pouring it into a wine decanter from its original bottle.
Another purpose of a wine decanter is to help serve wine. The original bottle of the wine often has designs that cover the bottle, making the sediments not easy to be seen. However, in a wine decanter, the sediments are easier to spot since the glass is clear and has no cover.
History of Wine Decantation
The idea of using a decanter that is made of glass originated from the ancient Romans. When the Romans fall from the war, glass-made decanters are scarcely made. Around that time, most of the decanters were made of metal such as gold, silver, and bronze. During the Renaissance period, glass decanters were reintroduced by the Venetians.
During the 17th century, British glassmakers invented the stopper to limit the exposure of wine into the air. Until then, decanting wine became a widely accepted way of improving the taste and aroma of wine, even in serving wines in the 17th century.
How to Decant Wine
The wine decantation process starts 24 hours or more before the wine is ready to drink. The placement of the bottle of your wine will be upright if you positioned your wine horizontally. This will allow the sediments to move at the bottom part of the bottle. Besides, doing this will make the filtering process easier.
To decant wine, simply follow these steps:
- To start, you have to select a clean wine decanter in which you plan to serve the wine. Make sure it is easy to pour the wine using the container.
- Clean the bottle of the wine, especially the neck, after removing the cork.
- Get a light (could be your phone’s flashlight). Place it under the neck of your wine bottle so that you could easily see the inside of the glass.
- While you are lighting the bottle, pour the wine slowly into a decanter.
- As you pour the wine into a decanter, focus on the illuminated part (bottleneck). Stop pouring the wine when you see sediments reaching the neck of the bottle. The sediments are not always obvious to see, as some might look like specks of dust, grains, chunks, or flakes.
- Finally, serve the wine using a wine decanter.
Two Ways to Decant a Wine
There are actually two main ways of decanting wine. They’re as follows:
- Shock Decanting
Shock decanting or quick splash decanting is when the wine is tipped in a vertical position and then poured into a wine decanter that is being held vertically. Through this, the wine can reach the bottom with a splash and with force, making it swirl around.
The purpose of shock decanting is to expose the wine to oxygen (aeration process). However, this method is not ideal if you are aiming to remove sediments from wine.
- Regular Decanting
Regular decanting is the typical way of decanting wine. The process goes with using one hand as you slowly pour the wine into a wine decanter while your other hand is holding a light to spot sediments.
You can use a lighter or a flashlight while doing the process. If you notice a cloudy or dusty appearance, this is the time to stop pouring. The light is your guide to know when to stop pouring and to avoid sediments.
How to Decant Wine Without using a Wine Decanter?
You can actually decant your wine without using a common wine decanter. Using a wine decanter is just ideal because the process is more effective this way. However, there are other methods of decanting wine without using a wine decanter. Here are some of them:
- Using a glass
When decanting wine, letting it breathe (aeration) can greatly help make it smell better. Using a glass, you simply have to pour the wine into it, swish it around a few times, and let it be exposed to oxygen. The duration of when to stop the aeration process will depend on the type of wine you are decanting.
- Using a wine aerator
A wine aerator is a small device that makes wine enter into a pressurized stream of oxygen. Using it will immediately aerate the wine because of the pressure of the oxygen stream. Also, using a wine aerator will not only speed up the aeration process but also enhances the evaporation process.
- Using a blender
This may sound ridiculous, but you can actually use a blender to decant your wine. The process of aerating wine using a blender is also called hyperdecanting. To start, simply pour your wine into the blender, turn it on for about 15-20 seconds, then serve your wine in a glass.
Using a blender is similar to using an aerator because the blades of the blender can also enhance the wine’s evaporation process.
Reasons for Decanting Wine
There are a few good reasons for decanting wine which are as follows:
- It allows you to remove sediment
As a red wine matures, tannin molecules are formed which will settle down to the bottom part of the bottle, eventually forming sediments. Wine decanters are used in separating sediments from the wine.
Old red wines are usually the ones that develop sediments. Though they’re not harmful or dangerous, they can give your wine an unpleasant taste. Therefore, removing them will improve the overall taste of the wine
- It improves your wine’s taste
The aeration can significantly improve the taste of your wine. Aeration refers to the process of exposing the wine to the air to improve and enhance its flavor and smell. Aeration also helps release gases in the wine that develops while sealed and make the tannins more relaxed, resulting in a better flavor and aroma.
However, the time needed to aerate wine is controversial among wine experts. Some experts recommend 1-2 minutes while others suggested that the process could take 20-30 minutes, especially for old wines.
- It improves the smell of white wines
Some white wines can have a sulfur-like aroma as you open the bottle. Using a decanter can help improve the aroma of white wines by aerating them for about 15 minutes.
- It warms up the wine
Sometimes, there are instances that wines may reach a few degrees below their recommended serving temperature when you put them in your storage. That’s the reason why most wine collectors use dual-zone refrigerated storage cabinets.
- There is art in decantation
When you saw an expert decanter’s movements, you will probably be amazed by the technique involved. The decantation process that involves the use of a decanter made of glass is no doubt a form of art.
Besides, the container revealing the color of the wine makes it a sight to behold.
What to Consider
Although wine decanting can offer a number of benefits, there has been an ongoing debate among wine enthusiasts on whether to decant wine or not.
For others, the process of decanting can actually make a wine fade faster, and since wine gets exposed to lots of oxygen as it swirls in your glass, it might lose some of its precious flavors. Besides, looking at your wine’s full evolution as it opens up in your glass can be an amazing experience – something that you might miss if you decant your wine too soon.
Also, older wines, particularly those that have been aged for at least 15 years, should only undergo the decanting process for a maximum of 30 minutes before drinking. Any more than that and it could end up ruining its taste.
Younger and full-bodied red wines, on the other hand, can go as far as an hour or more before they’re served. In fact, some wine tastings usually decant their wines for several hours to give them that exquisite appeal.
The problem is that these can sometimes be too risky as they could end up oxidizing the wine. Therefore, it’s best that it’s only done by people who are very familiar with how specific wines age and evolve.
That said, if you just want to do some basic decanting process, then following the steps we mentioned above won’t hurt.