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Jun 11, 2012 07:21 PM

A question about decanters.

Looking around at the options for red wine decanters, I have a question. Is there such a thing as too much air? I mean these very attractive duck and swan forms which have shallow but wide bases that expose large surface area of wine to the air. Do they open the wine up faster? Make it go flat faster?

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  1. Funny you should ask...
    I was just talking about this tonight!
    I prefer a very wide base for decanting old wine and a taller decanter for younger wine.
    I tend to get quicker results with a wide based decanter. Here is my "real world" experience with aged wine and decanting last night and tonight:

    Tonight I decanted a 1985 Clos De La Roche (cuvee vieilles vignes) Ponsot in a decanter with a very wide base. Due to the age, I poured gently and swirled it around a bit, left it there and tasted every 15 minutes. It was ready 30 minutes in.

    I decanted this SAME wine in a taller style decanter the last night, and I have had to leave it set over an hour before it was ready. Even though...I did a pretty big "splash decant" for increased air.

    I think that using the wide base and letting wine *just sit* with lots of air- gives better and faster results in older wine- than being in a hurry-using aerators, convoluted decanters or double decanting.

    Younger wine seems to be able to handle being "kicked around" a bit, actually....kind of like it to my taste:) I splash decant and double decant young wine...even do the "Mollydooker shake" on occasion. If you treat older wines this roughly, they can close up on you and lose their nose.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      I took a shot with a rather phallic looking Ravenscroft that was offered by Lot 18. I tested it out on a local Bordeaux Blend poured a small amount into a glass, half of the rest into the decanter and tried the Mollydooker shake on the rest of the bottle. The wine is a heady 15.4% and tastes a bit hot in the first pour. the shaken bit is less tight after 5 min but still comes off as alcoholic hot. 30 min in the decanter seems to balance things and the nose opens up to fruit, leather and pepper. it was great with my pan seared rib-eye. This is basically a tall style decanter.
      Some of them are so pretty, I can see starting a collection.

      1. re: budnball

        budnball, Have you ever tried that comparison alongside an aerator?

        1. re: Midlife

          Don't have one yet. As you see, I'm just getting around to decanting. :-)

          1. re: budnball

            Double decanting is taking a bottle of wine and splash pouring it into a container (tupperware type juice jug is fine), then rinsing the bottle and drying it, then funneling the wine back into the original clean bottle before guests arrive. No need for fancy decanters.

            I double decant when I have many wine (tastings) for a dinner party. It looks tacky IMO to have a variety of decanters and trying to keep track of "what wine is in what decanter".

      2. re: sedimental

        Very interesting! How young would you say is still young?

        1. re: melpy

          I don't know, I consider anything under 10 years to be young :)
          I think it might be MY age though! LOL

          Actually, when wine is over the ten year mark, it tends to be more "temperamental". I think the ten year mark defines the winemakers style for them (if they haven't done that for themselves). There are not many wines that are made specifically to *improve* after ten years of bottle age. The ones that are made that way (or just happen to be that way) really turn into something very different and need to be treated differently IMO.

      3. Depending on the wine, in my estimation, the answer is YES, but that depends more on the wine, than the decanter.

        Some folk will decant all red wines, with not so much as a taste. Others will taste, and then choose a decanter, plus try to calculate a time, and the number of pours into/out of a decanter.

        In the end - it just depends.


        1. Now, there is "decanting," and then there is "caraffing." They look about the same, to the untrained eye, but have different purposes.

          "Decanting" is the process of separating an older red wine from the lees - the sediment, and also aerates a wine. The latter might be a good thing, or maybe not.

          "Caraffing," is usually applied to aeration of a wine, to expose it to oxygen. This is more often used with white wines, that need the oxygen, but have no lees, or sediment.

          Many will "decant," or "carafe" a wine, that is young, to expose it to more oxygen, in hope of "aging it." That can work, though there are chemical differences between actually aging a wine, and aerating that same wine. Close, but not the same.

          When faced with a wine, where I think that some time in contact with oxygen, plus he pouring, I will taste from the bottle, then carafe that wine, into a "ship's decanter" and then taste again. I often taste several times, along he trail, and often declare a wine "ready," regardless of he time in that decanter.

          I am more governed by taste, than by charts and time, but that is just me.


          1. did anybody see the video (I hate videos, but couldn't resist this one) where they glug their wine into a **blender**?

            It says to only do it with young wine...I'm thinking it would be limited to anything from, say, yesterday.

            (We *carafe*, per Bill's terms for older stuff, or if we're having company -- a crystal decanter is a little classier than a bottle...)

            2 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              No. And the "purist" in me is happy that I did not.

              I also missed the video on pouring wine into a goat's bladder and then strapping that to a horse, which gallops across the plains for hours, to deliver the wine to the humans.

              There are many variations of aeration, that I have never bothered with.

              As I have over a dozen different decanters, I choose those, before an empty bottle. Their use, is predicated on the wine, and on the night. If we are doing a bottle of younger white Burg, and I feel that we will finish it, we "carafe" that wine. If we are doing an older red, then we "decant" the wine. Much depends on the wine, and on the group assembling to drink it that night.

              Personally, I feel that one can never have too many decanters. I have some for .375's and some for magnums. Some have stoppers, and some do not. A few are "works of art," though all of mine are functional. A friend has two, that look lovely, but are just ergonomically hard to pour from. Maybe that is just me?

              Some are easy to clean, and two are not, even with special "decanter racks."

              Still, with over a dozen at my disposal, I should be able to find, just what I am looking for.



            2. I have a collection of lovely old Waterford decanters, all loaded with lead. I would never serve wine from them. Instead, I carefully pour old reds into glasses, leaving the lees behind, pass them around to guests, and leave it to them to determine when the wine best suits their individual palates. (I tend to prefer wines that have been exposed to air for longer periods than most folks.)

              7 Replies
              1. re: pikawicca

                Is lead an issue, leaching from glass?

                Oh dear.

                1. re: Robin Joy

                  only if you store the wine or liquor long-term. For the duration of a dinner party, no biggie. (if it were a biggie, they wouldn't still sell lead-crystal decanters)

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Hell, I just choose from the few decanters I won in golf tournaments back when I had some game. I'm happy to have them, and something to put in them, and for a few items in the room I don't have to polish.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      but you still have to dust them.... ;)

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Yes. Last time that I had wine with you, you used your "Claret Jug," from when you won the Championship. Wine was great!


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          I've heard that jug goes particularly well with a green jacket....