Decanting wine: when, why and how
Decant: it isn't always necessary, it needs time and makes the wine, and especially its aromas, clearer.
When and why decant a wine?
Usually, you may want to decant a wine to:
- Let wine sediments get separated into bottles kept for long in the cellar. Here gravity is working for us: sediments are heavier, and so after some time they will deposit on the bottom of the decanter after we moved them by taking the bottle from the rack. Sediments are usually contained in non-filtered wines or are the result of aging.
- Let wines open up and release aromas and scents that would otherwise remain closed. From a chemical point of view in wines, there are acids, esters, and hydrocarbon molecules that "react" (bind, to be more accurate) quickly with oxygen.
In other words, it's through this reaction that the wine develops its aromas.
These two simple pieces of information give us some hints on when will it be useful to decant a wine:
- Definitely to be decanted are structured, full-bodied red wines that have been aged in the wood. These are the wines that are more suitable to be aged and therefore are mostly chosen to celebrate important life events.
- Young or medium-aged red wines, which obviously have no sediment, should be decanted. The contact with the air allows them to open up and release aromas and scents.
White wines, instead, even if they have been aged in wood, generally do not need to be decanted; it is sufficient to open the bottle in advance to allow the wine to air out.Sparkling wines, or wines made using the classic method (such as Champagne), should not be decanted because they would lose one of their main special feature: the bubbles.