Decanting wine can be a great way to enhance its flavours and aromas, but it's important to do it properly to avoid ruining the wine. Here are some do’s and don'ts of decanting wine that you should keep in mind.
Do let the wine settle first. Before decanting, stand the bottle upright for a couple of hours to allow any sediment to settle at the bottom. Not all wines have sediment, however, keeping the wine bottle upright at this time will allow guests to look at the bottle and provide a conversation point while waiting. Some would also argue it allows the wine itself to settle down from the agitation during handling.
Do choose the right wine. Young, full-bodied red wines with high tannins and bold flavors, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Bordeaux blends, are ideal for decanting. Lighter reds and white wines usually don't need to be decanted.
Do pour slowly and steadily. Pour the wine into the decanter slowly and steadily, keeping an eye on the sediment to avoid getting them into your decanter. The shoulder of the wine should catch most of the sediment, so keep that hand steady!
Do let the wine breathe. After decanting, let the wine sit in the decanter for at least 15 minutes, to allow it to open up and release its aromas and flavors. Some wines can take much longer to open up, but feel free to taste them prior to deciding if it needs a longer decanting time.
Do use a clean decanter. A dirty or musty decanter can affect the taste and aroma of the wine. Clean the decanter thoroughly before use, just before pouring the wine. If anything, a clean decanter will enhance the visual appearance of the wine prior to pouring.
Don't decant for too long. Over-decanting can cause the wine to lose its aroma and flavor, so be careful not to leave it in the decanter for too long. Generally speaking, if you can smell the fruit flavours from the wine, it is time.
Don't shake the bottle. Shaking the bottle can disturb the sediment and mix it with the wine, making it harder to remove.
Don't decant old or delicate wines. Aged or delicate wines may not benefit from decanting and can even be harmed by it. If in doubt, taste a small amount first before deciding to decant.
Don't fill the decanter to the top. Leave some room at the top of the decanter to allow the wine to breathe and release its aromas. Usually, a bottle of wine will fill up to the widest part of the decanter
Don't discard the sediment too quickly. Some sediment can be harmless and even add complexity to the wine. Drinking it is harmless, and the reason for removing it is a visual consideration.
By following these dos and don'ts, you can ensure that your decanting experience is a success and that you can enjoy the full potential of your wine. If you want to learn more about wine, follow Dunstan Vintner's social media pages (IG @dunstanvintner.sg, TikTok @dunstanvintnerwines) for our latest news, offers, and wine selections. Salut!