Decanting Wine Part Two
The other, more common, reason for decanting is to give the wine a chance to mix with oxygen, or “breath”. Young wine that has not been aerated can taste bitter and have a strong taste of alcohol. Allowing air to get across the surface area breaks up tannins and frees up the flavor of the wine, bringing out the aroma. This is what happens when we swirl a glass of wine. This process normally takes place from years in the bottle and that is why young wines benefit the most from aerating.
How to do it?
Procedure for decanting wine in order to remove sediment*:
If possible, let the bottle stand upright for up to two days to allow the sediment to settle. Remove the cork and then wipe the sediment from the neck of the bottle with a cloth. Experts suggest that you hold the bottle in front of a candle as you slowly and carefully pour the wine into the decanter. This will help you see the sediment. When you see the sediment is in the neck of the bottle, stop pouring. The end result is a full carafe of wine with a half glass of sediment.
*If decanting for the purpose of aeration, simply transfer the wine into the decanter and let it sit for ½-2 hours (depending on age). It is risky to let older wines sit opened at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and if your decanting procedure will be over 2 hours, it is best to have the wine sit in the decanter in a room that approximates cellar temperature (55-65 degrees.) Wines such as Barolo can sit for 8 hours and not be spoilt by the time, but unless you have experience with a particular wine, it is safer to err on the side of caution and decant for shorter periods of time.
- Exercise caution when decanting older, more delicate wines. Do not allow these wines to aerate for too long, again experience with a particular wine will give you a clearer time frame the 2nd time you under take decanting.
- Be sure to use a clear, clean decanter – free of decorations- so you can easily see the sediment. The key here is clean and that means clean of any soapy residue. Its best to just wash decanters in hot water without any soap product.
- If a decanter is not available, a coffee filter may be used in its place for removing sediment. You can aerate the wine by simply letting it sit in the glass before drinking.
- Use the remaining sediment as an ingredient in gravy to accompany a roast.
If you are still unsure about the benefits of decanting, take the time to experiment with it yourself at home. You are likely to find that the process will make an average wine good and a great wine outstanding.
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