The Wine Drinker's Bar: Wine Decanters

I remember when I first started getting into wine that decanters confused me. Why would you pour your bottle of wine into another container before pouring it into the glasses? It seemed silly and unnecessary, and now it was one more thing I would have to clean! So what is the purpose of them? And do decanters really make a difference? 

Why Decant?

Decanting wine is simply pouring the wine out of the bottle and into another vessel. Most of the time, it'll be another glass container. Why do that? As I said before, it seems silly to use another vessel when the bottle does just fine. The key is that the wine is more exposed to oxygen in a decanter versus the bottle. This exposure allows harsh tannins to mellow and flavors to become enhanced.

Also, have you ever had a glass of wine and it looks like there's something akin to coffee grounds at the bottom? Sediment can be found in wine, and decanting, if done correctly, can help you enjoy the wine sediment-free. Tip: If sediment is a major reason for you to decant a wine, make sure you have the bottle standing upright for a day or so before you enjoy it. This will allow the sediment to settle on the bottom before decanting. This video also gives two methods for removing sediment from wine.

What Should I Decant?

The question of what to decant can also be an intimidating one. As a general rule of thumb, bold red wines are the ones that benefit the most. As I mentioned before, it allows the harshness of these wines to soften and makes them more fun to drink. These wines include Syrah, Malbec, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. While that may be the general rule, you can decant whatever you would like! The only one I would definitely shy away from decanting is a sparkling wine as exposure to oxygen kills the bubbles.

When is Enough?

It can be a delicate balance between an appropriate amount of exposure and overexposure to oxygen. You don't want your wine to turn into vinegar! Overall, I'd say somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour is safe. Some bolder reds like Syrah may take a bit longer, but it's always good to test it along the way. 

Which Decanter?

Whichever one you like best! It doesn't have to be expensive or a crazy design. Decanters can be a pain to clean, so I would pick the one that makes cleaning the easiest. But if you like the crazy design Here are some great choices: