A Quick Guide On When and How To Decant Wine
Updated: Feb 17
Decanting wine has a very simple and practical purpose: to allow you to enjoy your wine more, thus increasing the enjoyment of the experience itself.
Whether you only indulge in the occasional bottle, or you're one of those people who consider themselves drinkers of fine wines, learning about decanting is beneficial to any wine lover. After reading this guide on when and how to decant wine, we hope it will elevate the experience of drinking your favorite vino.
Why do we need to decant wine?
To introduce oxygen
Aeration allows the wine to breathe. Much like how we swirl our drink in the glass to better smell its aromas and taste its flavors, decanting allows these characteristics to enhance. In some cases, reduced wines exhibit unpleasant aromas like rotten eggs, burnt rubber, or garlic. Decanting will help lessen these aromas and bring the fruit back to the surface.
To remove sediment
Older wines especially red ones form sediments over years of storage. They are not harmful to consume but they are bitter and unpleasant to taste. Decanting separates these sediments, for you to enjoy only the clear liquid. If the cork happens to be broken, this process also helps keep the cork pieces away from your glass.
To bring the wine to its proper serving temperature
If you stored a bottle of red in a slightly colder cellar, decanting it in a warmed vessel will bring its temperature down to what is ideal for serving.
Which bottles should we decant?
Old red wines (roughly aged 7 years or more) should be decanted with the primary purpose of keeping sediment out. Younger wines that are tannic (red) or acidic (white) can benefit from the effect of aeration during decanting.
Light reds like Pinot Noir or Grenache need only around 20-30 minutes in the decanter to reach their fullest potential. Medium-bodied wines like Merlot or Malbec can take 20 minutes to an hour while full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz can be decanted for an hour or two.
White wines, Rosés, and Champagne don’t need decanting unless they start smelling strange from going without oxygen for too long. 15 to 30 minutes in the decanter should be enough to improve the taste and aromas of these reduced wines.
How do we properly decant wine?
There are many different rules and tools for decanting wine, but here are some generally accepted rules. Your best bet is to experiment and find which style you like best—all wine experts do their own tweaks. Some like to decant young wines for hours while some do not. In the end, it’s all about activating those flavors and aroma compounds.
For young vintages absent of any sediment:
Pour the bottle vigorously onto the decanter for aeration.
Make sure to clean the neck and lip of the bottle before pouring - ensuring that no cork particles or dirt accumulation remains.
For old vintages:
Prepare the bottle a day before decanting. If the wine is stored horizontally, turn it vertically to let the sediment fall to the bottom of the bottle
Remove the cork carefully, making sure not to move the sediments
With a clean cloth, remove any dirt from the neck and the lip of the wine
Pour the wine slowly and gently into the decanter over a lighted candle or any light source that will allow you to see when the sediments have reached the shoulder of the bottle - that’s when you stop pouring. Do this continuously and gradually, as stopping midway may mix the sediment with the clear liquid once again
If you want a taste of Western Australia and New Zealand fine wines, explore our entire collection here. Happy tastings!