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Aug 23, 2013 01:37 PM

"Decanting" Rieslings.

I have been on a Riesling kick this summer and have run into a small issue. Most Riesling bottles are taller than the standard wine bottle of Chards/Pinot or Cabs/reds. This means that after opening, if I don't finish the bottle, those with corks will not fit in my fridge, standing up. At first I would just cut the corks down to size, but it made them hard to remove again. So my new way is to keep a rinsed and clean screw-top bottle at the ready and opening, I will transfer into this bottle. I am not buying for the cellar but for quick drinking and a bottle may last 3-4 days in my fridge. Am I losing or gaining anything with this decant for room?

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  1. This applies only to German rieslings: I've often read that Prum's rieslings benefit from decanting though I never do decant rieslings. Still,I can't see any problem pouring a young wine into a smaller bottle. (And I think it depends on specific wines/vintages whether a "benefit" might occur.) For example, I recall that 2002 wines were often high acid--crisp-- (something I like) and that exposure to air seemed to soften them as the evening went on. Lately, vintages have tended to be fuller.

    1. I've been doing this for years!!! Deterioration from totally un-noticeable. Stay fresh if stored in the fridge for less than a week.

      1. Interesting question. I guess I never have this problem because I'm never left with an unfinished bottle of riesling :)

        My advice would be to follow your palate... as long as the flavors don't go flat, get fridge burn, or otherwise deteriorate, more power to you.

        I've never decanted a riesling, though I've swirled many in a glass :) I just don't see the typical benefits of decanting (blowing off tannin, softening and opening of flavors, etc.) being an issue for rieslings so that's probably why it's never cross my mind.

        Congratulations on getting on a riesling kick btw... warning, you'll probably never get off of it:)

        1. You're gaining, if by that you mean holding onto the full flavor of the wine, especially if you transfer the Riesling into a smaller bottle with reduced or no ullage. Riesling keeps extremely well this way.

          I've done this a lot, and know how very well it works. We always have several Rieslings going at home in the summertime, and I'm very picky about fall-off in flavor from storage.

          I like the lab bottles best that come in different milliliter sizes, but even jelly jars work.
          I've written more about it here:

          7 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            We have a second home and are regularly bringing leftover wine from one place to the other. For a really small amount I have a leftover bottle from a split of sparkling. All manner of jars get used.

            ETA: Followup question. So are you saying that it's actually BETTER to re-bottle into something smaller than leave in the original? For reislings anyway?

            1. re: c oliver

              Yes. For all wines. Works amazingly well, and is my preservation method of choice, currently. Plus, it's inexpensive. I prefer the lab bottles with plastic/composite caps, but any jar will work. I stay away from all-metal lids though -- I look for those with a plastic liner on the underside of the lid.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                There's never a day probably that I don't learn something from CHs. This is it for today :) Thanks, ml.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Just make sure you fill the jar to the tippy-top -- to the very top edge of the glass, with cap in hand. Then cap it quickly. The trick is to have no ullage at all. Also, open the jar after storage over the vessel you will pour into -- a glass, a pot on the stove, etc, since a bit of the wine tends to spill from the jar being so full. But even if you do spill -- libation to the gods.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I find these eliminate the ullage and spillage problems, In addition different sizes (e.g. 200ml, 400ml, 500ml) allow one to choose having a single glass or a couple of glasses then saving the rest for later. I use either a small or medium plastic funnel to fill to the top.


                      Can be found in a variety of food or home goods shopping spots.

                      1. re: PolarBear

                        Great post. Those bottles look great.

                        Yes, wonderful to have all different sizes to accommodate all amounts of leftover wine.

                        I like these bottles too:

            2. Decanting will degrade the slight effervescence of a just-opened bottle of Riesling, but the fizz is gone by day 3 even if the wine stays in the original bottle.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious

                True, but doesn't this presume that the wine *is* "slightly effervescent" in the first place? Not all Rieslings are . . .