To Decant or Not to Decant — That Is the Question

Today’s question deals with a process we see on occasion at restaurants where wine is taken seriously. But is that process really necessary? And should you do it at home?

QUESTION: When we go out to eat at nice restaurants, we often see the server decanting bottles of red wine. Is this something we should be doing at home with our reds?

ANSWER: Decanting is a useful process, but only for a very small percentage of wines.

There basically are two reasons to decant:

1. The wine is young and, thus, possibly very tight. Decanting exposes the wine to oxygen quickly, which can help it “open up” and reveal its aromas and flavors.

2. The wine is older and has begun to throw some sediment in the bottle. Decanting can help isolate the sediment and prevent it from making its way into your wine glass.

For a vast majority of wines in the marketplace at any given time — upwards of 99 percent — there’s no need for decanting. That said, the process will do no harm… and it can lend an air of elegance and perceived sophistication to an occasion.

Posted in Wine FAQ
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