Does Decanting Your Wine Matter?

December 31, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Food & Beverage

Decanting wine . What is it? Is it even necessary?

You don’t need wine courses for the solutions to these age old questions.

Decanting wine is just pouring you wine into another container with the concept of letting your wine aerate or mix with oxygen. The idea is that “letting the wine breath ‘ will reinforce your flavour.

Do this work? Does this do any good at all? Well let’s find out.

Like most traditions, they’re based primarily on fact or information that was relevant long ago. You need to notice that wine not like anything else, maybe besides baseball, is steeped during the past with practice.

I think most people still want to understand a certain romantic aspect to wine.

But winemaking, like most industries has modernized. Tiny local family owned wineries might still use some of the more standard methodologies in making their wines, but they are a minority.

What this really means is that something that was necessary to do to wine 100 years back, in most cases is not required today.

Way back, most wines weren’t filtered, meaning that tiny remaining pieces of yeast from the fermentation process would in time settle in the base of the bottle.

They don’t have any taste or don’t hurt the wine in any fashion, but they just do not look attractive. So that the low tech answer was to simply pour the wine into another container and leave the tiny amount of sediment in the bottle. Problem solved.

My prediction is that some clever promoting type turned this negative into a positive by mentioning that because they decanted, their wine was better.

When in reality they were just distracting people from the sediment. I mean actually, who would like to look at wine cooties? I do not. I’ll bet you don’t either!

In modern winemaking, this sediment is filtered out before bottling. So except in some cases, when it is the winemakers choice not to filter, you can never see sediment in the base of modern wine bottles.

So what about decanting to let the wine breath.

Before winemaking was modernised, many wines were aged in caves and infrequently the corks could pick up smells.

The reason why you let the wine breath was to dispel any of those unwished-for scents. Most bottles did not have the plastic bottle caps we use today.

Today, most wines are stockpiled in climate controlled warehouses and capped with a plastic cork cover. As well as just looking nicer, the plastic bottle cap helps keep the cork and bottle free from outside smells.

So short of the theatrics of decanting wine, which I have got to admit can be good fun, I’m not a big fan of decanting.

But while acknowledging that, it actually doesn’t hurt the wine and if you like doing it or like entertaining your visitors by the procedure , by all possible means keep on decanting.

Some of my winemaker mates might disagree with my opinion here and that is OK.

I would accept that wines that are very dear and have been made in more standard tactics could profit from decanting, but the standard wines that we buy for Tues. night dinner doubtless won’t.

So whether you select decanting wine or not is up to you. But at the very least you now know the explanations behind you choice.

Mark is a professional winemaker, former winery owner, writer and frequent speaker on wine. He currently helps students to learn about wine with his wine classes through the US.


This author has published 2 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.

Leave a Reply