To a wine newbie, few things in the wine universe are more mysterious than wine decanters. Many wine drinkers worldwide aren’t exactly sure why these glass vessels exist and how they are used when serving wine. If that’s you, then you are in the right place. In this article, you’ll learn about decanters and understand how and when to use one. Let’s solve the mystery, shall we?
What Is A Decanter?
Before we answer this question, let's point out that a Decanter is not a Carafe. A Carafe is an aesthetically looking glass vessel used to display wine appealingly. It also makes it easy to serve wine. On the other hand, the Decanter has a higher purpose that the carafe could never serve. It is used for aerating wine before it's taken. This process is known as decanting.
Is a Wine Decanter Important?
Is there any reason a wine Decanter is needed? Yes, there is more than one reason why using a wine Decanter is essential. Let's discuss them one after the other.
When you want to drink an old bottle of wine (say 10 -15 years old), you don't just pop open the bottle, serve the wine and make a toast. If you did that, you might not enjoy it. This is because the wine would need to breathe. This aerating process will make the flavors and aromas more vibrant when it's time to sip fr9m your glass.
2) Sediment Separation
Most times, when a win has stayed in a bottle for so long, it forms sediments. This is more common with red wines and vintage ports. It's usually rare to find white wines that accumulate. These accumulated sediments generally have a very negative effect on the taste and texture of the wine. It can make the wine look cloudy and also impart a bitter taste. While it isn't harmful in any way, you would not enjoy your wine. What's the fun in having wine if it can't be enjoyed? So decanting is used to separate sediment from your wine.
When To Use A Wine Decanter?
The answer is simple. You should decant wine when you plan to serve it. This is to let it aerate and also remove sediments.
If you want to serve a bottle of wine, you should decant it. This would include older bottles or newer ones. Aerating a bottle of wine would let it breathe and make the flavors more exciting. So if you would love a spark of dionysian magic on your bottle of wine, then aerate it a little bit.
A note of caution here, though, aerating wine could be very tricky due to the exposure time involved. If you expose a wine for too long, it will likely lose some flavor and aroma. The best thing to do is to experiment with different wine types and seek expert opinions on how long you should aerate a bottle of wine.
In general, older bottles should spend less time decanting than newer ones. Thirty minutes is usually the average time for aerating older bottles, while an hour will be fine for more unique bottles.
If you are handling an old bottle of wine (particularly reds), there is every likelihood there would be some sediment already formed in the bottle. These sediments are usually formed during the wine's fermentation process. It's formed from dead yeast cells, tartrates, and grape matter. As earlier stated, they are not harmful.
To Decant or Not Decant?
Most people wonder if they should decant every bottle of wine. Well, there are different types of wines, and decanting has a different effect on each type. All wines are not the same, and you shouldn't expect decanting to. have the same effect on all wines. Let's look at each wine type and decide whether there is a need to decant.
Red wines usually form sediments and need to be decanted before they are served.
White wines usually do not have sediments but may form tartrate crystals that need decanting.
Sparkling Wines, like champagne, have a high carbon dioxide content which gives them their trademark bubbles. Decanting them could reduce the sharpness of the bubbles on your palette. So if you love the sensitivity of the wine, you don't need to decant it.
It's worth mentioning that some people do not mind the tartrates and sediments in wine, myself included. They are not harmful, so some people prefer to take their wine without decanting. If that's you, then all is good. However, there's no harm in knowing what decanting does so you could try it out and see if you like it.
How To Use A Wine Decanter?
Using a wine Decanter shouldn't be a mystery. Whether you are aerating or removing sediment, it's the same process. To maximize the use of a decanter, you can follow these simple steps:
After choosing the wine you want to drink, set the bottle upright for twenty-four hours so that any sediment in the bottle can be decanted easily.
The next step is to take out the wine cork carefully. This is to ensure that you do not let any part of the cork get into the drink. Remember you are trying to avoid sediments and particles. You can take out the pin using a corkscrew, an electric wine bottle opener, or a wine key.
Now it's time to decant the wine. Hold the Decanter at an angle of forty-five degrees and slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Ensure that you let the liquid slide down the neck of the Decanter without making contact with any other surface in between.
As you pour the wine, you must know when to stop. The sediments are still in the bottle and can get into the Decanter. The aim is to limit the volume of sediment that gets into the Decanter. This is usually an arduous task, but a little trick would help. Watch the wine as you pour it into the Decanter. If it starts getting cloudy and shows any change in texture, then it is time to stop pouring.
Leave the wine in the Decanter for a while before serving it to let it aerate and to allow any particles that got in settle.
There you have it. That's all you need to know about decanting (we hope). Now you can have fun decanting your first bottle of wine. Cheers!