By Clif Family Winemaker Laura Barrett
Wine consumers often wonder if, and when, they should decant a wine.
There are two main benefits to using a decanter – aeration, and decanting sediment. Aeration is most useful for young wines that need some extra air to open up. Oxygen can help a wine express its aromatics. For this same reason, we swirl our wine in the glass. So, if you have a younger red wine, I suggest opening the wine an hour or two prior to the meal and pouring it into the decanter. Swirl around and enjoy a few hours later.
The second reason to decant is for older wines that may have sediment at the bottom of the bottle. As wine ages, it precipitates, and this sediment will collect at the base of the bottle. In this case, you would pour the wine into the decanter, leaving the solids behind in the bottle. This is a slow and gentle process and some will hold the bottle over a candle for a bit of light to see the change from clear wine to cloudy wine.
Many decanters are pieces of glass art, with fancy shapes and sizes. Although beautiful, this is not necessary to accomplish the task of decanting or aerating. I find that the lightweight, simple decanters with easy grip and ease of pouring are the best.