While decanting wine may be a common practice at gourmet restaurants and dinner parties, you don’t need to be among the wine savvy to get the most flavor out of your bottle. It’s simple enough—all you need is a decanter and your favorite wine.
Wine of all types and ages can be decanted. By allowing the oxygen to mix with the liquid, the wine starts to separate from its sediment. These particles give wine its potent taste. Though older wines have more sediment from the aging process, young wines can also contain sediment. Either way, exposing your wine to the air will bring out its true flavor.
Before you pour, always be sure to use a decanter made of clear, crystal. This way, you can easily see the wine as it breathes, eventually changing color and consistency. Also, the easier the decanter is to clean, the better. No one wants to sip a Cabernet that has a faint aroma of a musty cabinet.
For a young wine, simply pour and let sit. Taste occasionally, and drink when at the ideal flavor. The longer it breathes, the richer its aroma becomes.
Older wines require a few extra steps in the decanting process. New York Magazine offers the method of prepping an old wine for decanting, assuring the most sediment separation and the finest taste.
If you plan meals ahead of time, choose your bottle of wine and apply the “Peking duck” approach—set the bottle upright for a few days before opening it, forcing all sediment towards the bottom.
Once you open the bottle, again, slowly rotate and pour. Observe the wine as it enters the decanter, watching for sediment as you reach the end of the bottle.
Because older wines contain much more sediment and have had time to age, overexposing an old wine to oxygen can often take away from a its natural flavor. Therefore, decant immediately before serving.
So whether you’re drinking a two-year-old Merlot or a forty-year-old vintage Port, delicately pour, decant, and enjoy.