I drink wine with dinner most nights. I am not independently wealthy. My wife gets mad when I spend too much on wine.
Those three points all factor into my constant search for good, quality made, “house wines”. Sometimes, I find a huge hit! Sometimes I find some flops. Most times I decant these wines.
Decanting the wine may seem like a snobby, pretentious ritual to some, but it serves a few purposes. I decided to describe one reason to decant a wine for each of the reasons I mentioned above.
First, many of the wines we drink today are younger and have not been in the bottle too long. These wines are often crafted to be consumed young, but many if not all will benefit from some time in the decanter. The process of decanting allows the wine to “open up” or aerate. Oxygen exposure helps to soften some of the tannins, which can be sharp in younger wines. Decanting will also allow the flavors to develop a bit more so you get to experience more balance in tastes. For most younger wines I will usually decant for 20-40 minutes, but some will develop more with longer decanting times. Part of the fun is experiencing the way the wine evolves as it decants. Also, you don’t need a fancy decanter. You can simply get a really nice, larger wine glass and pour yourself some and then let it sit. Tick tock, tick tock…
Second, I believe there is a psychological effect that takes place from decanting a wine. The ritual, the impressive visual presentation, and the way it forces the drinker to slow down all create a more enjoyable experience. When you take the time to decant a wine you anticipate the actual tasting so much more and I feel your senses are more “alert” because of this anticipation.
Third, it impresses your guests. I am not an advocate of serving guests cheap wine. In fact, I believe there is no better time to open a great bottle then when you are hosting friends or family. However, decanting the wines you serve shows your guests you care. You care about them and the wines you are serving to them. They too will be seduced by the first two reasons for decanting mentioned above.
So hop to it, try decanting your wines, and start enjoying the experience that much more.
In the next post we will discuss decanting more mature wines.