My mother is a clean freak. She raised me to leave everything spotless and clean as I go. While I refuse to admit I am like my mother in any other way, I did find myself asking what the point of a wine decanter is. It just seems like another dish to wash.
I am often tempted to buy fancy glassware like this when meandering the home dining items at The Bay or Winners, but then I remember I am a poor student and would rather spend that money on what is supposed to go inside the decanter on the weekend.
Turns out, there is a point to these things besides just looking classy. Decant means to gradually pour (liquid, typically wine or a solution) from one container into another, especially without disturbing the sediment. Go figure.
Wine + Oxygen = softened wine and enhanced flavours
Wine + too much oxygen = gross vinegarish type liquid (oxidized wine)
You can decant white and red wine but it is mainly used for older reds that have a fair amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
I’m not going to lie, I laughed out loud when I was reading up on this. How do I pour wine into a different container? This seems like pure snobbery. However, I did find an instructional video.
Basically you hold the decanter at and angle, and at the end of the bottle you pour the wine out in a way to catch the sediment. That part seems useful, it feels weird when there is sediment at the bottom of your glass. Even though it is totally normal!
White wines rarely produce sediment, but it is very common in older reds and vintage ports. Sediment happens because tannins, dead yeast cells, grape pulp and colour pigments bond together and fall to the bottom of the bottle. When it is stirred in with the wine it can give your beverage a cloudy appearance and add a gritty texture and bitterness.
If you are cracking open an old bottle and want to pull out that wedding gift you have never used then I have a couple tips for you.
- Set the bottle upright for at least 24 hours before you plan to drink it. I know you remember to store your wine horizontally so the cork doesn’t dry out, right?
- Don’t let older wines (5+ years) sit in the decanter for much longer than half an hour. Younger wines can sit for about an hour, sometimes more.
The winemaking process today pretty much ensures your wine will be clarified and filtered before it hits your bottle, so pulling that gift out of storage probably isn’t going to make or break your tasting experience. However, it might be interesting to experiment with one bottle of your favourite wine in the decanter and one straight out of the bottle. Gather the crew; you have an experiment to do!
Be safe. Drink water. Be kind.
Wishing you all a wonderful day 🙂