We often talk about decanting or “bouncing” wines before we serve them. To us, this is the most important aspect when trying to maximize enjoyment from a bottle of wine. Despite our constant promotion of this technique are amazed at the number of customers who still don’t decant their wines, or only decant expensive bottles.
There are two main reasons you should decant wines. First, decanting older wines gently separates the wine from sediment that may have built up in the bottle over time. Second, and more important for younger wines, decanting exposes them to oxygen and allows the flavors of the wine to open up and become more expressive. Exposure to air (letting the wine breathe) will also soften harsh tasting tannins and acids in the wine and allows the flavors of the wine to reach their highest potential. Most wines will benefit from being decanted for 30 – 60 minutes and older wines may require less decanting time than young robust wines. Many people decant only their red wines, but whites will benefit also. I decant all of my European whites, especially white Burgundies and white wines from the Loire valley.
As for the need to buy an expensive decanter, don’t! While expensive hand blown crystal decanters are aesthetically pleasing and may impress your friends and family, any food grade ceramic, glass or plastic pitcher will accomplish the same result. Another option is if your decanting pitcher or carafe isn’t pretty enough to be on your table, feel free to “bounce” the wine. Bouncing is when you pour the wine into a pitcher, decanter or carafe and then funnel it back into the bottle. This process can be repeated several times if you are pressed for time, or if the flavors of the wine are really tight or stiff. This process is also good if you are serving several different wines at the same time and you want your guests to see the label.
Next time you’re having a bottle of wine whether it’s for a formal dinner party or take out pizza, try these decanting tips…you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.