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Jul 27, 2009 06:16 AM

Decanting wine

I'm a wine lover, but by no means a wine snob. I drink what tastes good to me, regardless of the label. Had some wine snob friends visit for dinner recently and he decanted a 2007 cab-sav for the dinner. We had already drank one bottle of it (and plenty of chardonnay before dinner) so I was wondering the reason for this. Does decanting a 2007 wine really make a difference? Or was he just posing because he wanted to show off using the decanter, funnel and screen? Does a 2007 wine even have any sediment that could be caught in the screen?

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  1. LOL! The best '07 Cabernets have yet to be released and when they are they surely won't have enough (any) sediment to require a screen!

    That said, young Cabrnets of decent quality almost ALWAYS benefit from decanting.

    1. Decanting serves 2 purposes: Remove the wine from the dregs/sediment. Expose to air.

      The young wine had no appreciable sediment, I suspect, but no age either. The exposure to oxygen during the decanting and sitting in the decanter acted to rapidly age the wine. Not as good as 10 years in the bottle, but a good idea for a young cab.

      1. The generally polarizing Gary Vaynerchuk actually advises that ALL wines be decanted: http: //

        I don't know that I agree with him totally, but I do know that aeration(decanting) expands the aromas and flavors of most wines, so it will magnify the experience. Personally, however, I like to experience the wine under more 'normal' circumstances and only take 'heroic measures' if the wine seems to require it.

        Just my $.02. YMMV

        17 Replies
        1. re: Midlife

          I don't own a decanter but I should.
          You get the same benefits by pulling the cork and exposing the wine to air. It's just that often you have to pull the cork the night before.
          Wines that are old enough or poorly made will collapse on themselves in the decanter, so I'd choose which wines to decant carefully.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            Most of the wines we drink are 2004 and up. Like Anthony Bordain says, "I can appreciate a good wine, but I'm no wine-wonk." Decanting has become standard for us, as well as - dare I say - poured through a Vinturi - gulp... :) We almost always pour a small sample without any alteration in a glass and compare it with one that has been Vinturied into a decanter. With a few exceptions, we almost always prefer the latter.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              Actually, you don't get the same benefits simply by pulling the cork early. Due to bottle shape, very little wine will actually come in contact with the air, rendering it pointless.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                Steve and invino: I've read several articles that confirm the point made by invino...

                1. re: ibstatguy

                  My taste buds disagree.
                  Plus, I ruined an older Chianti once by letting it breathe overnight. If your proposition is true, only the upper part of the wine would have been damaged.

                  1. re: SteveTimko

                    Steve: I will never argue with what someone tastes. That said, time is of course a factor in the equation and I commend to you some "Googling" to track down articles on the subject.

                    Best, Tony

            2. re: Midlife

              As a general rule, Gary V is... [what can I type that won't get me in trouble?]

              While many wines will benefit from decanting, many will not, and some will get damaged. (No one best come *near* my aged Burgundies or Brunellos with a decanter.)

              1. re: whiner

                "As a general rule, Gary V is..."................... polarizing???

                1. re: Midlife

                  Yes... Polarizing. And I am not a fan. ;-)

              2. re: Midlife

                Midlife, I agree with you- certain wines shouldn't be decanted. Pinot Noirs especially shouldn't, but also a few Italian varietals and certainly not Champagne (did I need to say that out loud?).

                I don't really mind Gary V- he brings wine to the masses which is awesome. PS- the Amon Ra is amazing.

                1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                  >>and certainly not Champagne (did I need to say that out loud?). <<

                  *coughs and prepares for battle*

                  As I mentioned before, there are some wines I agree ought not to be decanted. I mentioned aged Burgundy and Brunello.

                  I did not forget that Champagne exists when I did not mention it. Actually, I believe that some Champagnes benefit from decanting. Not splash decanting, and there are only a few that do benefit form this, you really need to know what you are doing and be confident that (1) your guests aren't drinking Champagne just for the bubbles and (2) that this is "one of those" wines...

                  But some Champagne benefits from a 30 minute decant. I recently had a Salon / Delamotte tasting where the '96 Salon (a, somehow, inferior vintage for this incredible winery) and current release Delamotte Rose were both tasting MUCH better after a short decant than poured directly from bottle.

                  1. re: whiner

                    Whiner...does the loss of bubbles in decanting bother you?

                    And when bubbles pop, flavor goes. At least that's what my palate and what physics says.

                    I am so friggin' content with undecanted Champagne.

                    But I respect your palate, especially for bubbles.

                    Clue me in as to why decanting bubbly is a good thing. I'm happy to update my knowledge.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I'd be curious as to the what Brad, the champagne warrior, has to say. For me, I can't imagine decanting a champagne...

                      1. re: maria lorraine


                        The loss of bubbles doesn't really bother me. But, remember, I like old Champagne which is never as bubbly as when young. I don't really think that as bubbles pop, the flavor goes... it is just CO2. Similarly, I often serve my Champagne out of (smaller) Bordeaux shaped glasses.

                        I find that decanting Champagne for half an hour or so can soften it up and allow the acid to better integrate. Just like with many white wines. (Think Gravner.) And, this is especially true of the Roses, which obliously have tannin in them.

                        As I said, I don't do this often, but I have done the A-B with both a '96 Salon and the current Delamotte rose, and both were universally agreed upon to be better once decanted. The rep. for Salon was pouring out of the bottle as a curiosity only and was urging people that decanting this wine was actually th proper method of serving it.

                        I would never decant an older Champagne.

                        1. re: whiner


                          About the bubbles: Champagne's effervescence propels both flavor and aroma. It's not merely gas dissipating.

                          Read more here, if curious, in this American Scientist article on bubbly physics (Page 32), subtitled:
                          "Is the fizz just for show, or does it add to the taste of sparkling wine?"


                          When you decant, is that a soft decant, or are you pouring vigorously into a new container? Whatever it is, let me know the voodoo you do so well.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Soft. Down the side of the decanter. Absolutely no splashing. No swirling in the decanter. Just letting it sit and get air contact. And, again, this is only for some Champagnes. Not all, and certainly not older examples.

                    2. re: chetatkinsdiet


                      I must disagree, many Pinot Noirs (especially young, big CA ones) benefit from decanting. But what would I know, they never last long enough in the decanter to fall apart.

                  2. I decant many of my Oregon Pinot Noir's, and it helps them. Especially the younger bigger ones. If I don't decant and just carry the bottle over for a couple of night the wine appears to get better the second and third day.

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