Why Do We Decant Wine?
At Vine Cliff, we decant wine for two main reasons: to aerate and to remove sediment in the wine. Why do we decant red wine is a good question, as the full process of decanting primarily applies to red wine. People have different occasions for decanting wine, it could be an every day occurrence or saved for specifically for special occasions.
Aeration is the act of getting the air in contact with the wine and incorporating oxygen into it so that the flavors can fully develop. You may want to aerate a young red wine (8 years or less) if it comes across as too astringent or bold in its palate appeal. Aeration for up to 30 minutes will provide you with a much smoother and complex taste. The aeration time varies for all wines, and there is no solid rule that applies to all. However it is strongly advised to periodically taste the wine throughout the aeration process, and once you feel the wine is ready, enjoy it!
Removing Sediment in Wine
A wine that has aged in the bottle, typically red wine as opposed to white wine, will drop sediment. This substance, often referred to as the dregs in the bottle, is a combination of grape solids, color pigment, and tartaric acid crystals that settle out. This sediment is unappealing floating around in your glass and unpleasant on your palate but on the good side, sediment is harmless and is a natural result from aging your wine. The wine decanter, also known as the carafe, is designed specifically to aid the aeration process. Traditionally they have wide bottoms with a large surface area which exposes more of the wine to the air to create a quicker result. If you are not intending on serving your wine immediately after decanting, you should ensure that your carafe has some kind of cover so no delicate flavors or aromas are lost. It is okay to swirl and shake your decanter as this incorporates more oxygen into the wine.
When pouring from the bottle into the decanter however, it is advised to pour at a 45 degree angle against the opposite side the decanter neck, allowing it to follow the curves of the glass so it doesn’t bubble the surface of the wine. Removing the cork but leaving the wine in the bottle also begins the process, but at a much slower rate and is potentially doesn’t offer the same result, as the air only makes contact with a very small surface area.
When you open a bottle of red wine and you cannot taste much fruit, it is highly tannic (astringent) or you are struggling to identify any aromas then the wine is what we call “closed” and will need decanting. If the wine is ready it will be noticeably smoother and more pleasant and the process adds to the pleasure of enjoying your wine.
SPECIAL JUNE OFFER AT OUR TASTING ROOM
At our St. Helena Tasting Room, we have a small collection of uniquely designed Riedel decanters which will make a special gift for your favorite wine collector. For the month of June, we are offering these decanters at 35% off. They can be yours for $325 plus tax and includes shipping. Please call our Tasting Room at 707.967.9820 to reserve yours or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Better still, drop in to 699 St. Helena Highway and choose your decanter.