Decanting Wine

We decant wine for two reasons.

The first is that older, red wines tend to throw a deposit which neither looks nor tastes great.

The second is that when a wine is decanted it is naturally aerated and that can help enhance aromas (or get rid of less pleasant ones) and, in the case of younger wines, soften some of the youthful hard edges. This is as true for white wines as it for reds.

Nonetheless it is vintage red wines and ports that are most frequently decanted and the aim is to leave the sediment in the bottle and have a decanter of clear wine to serve. Here’s how to do it: 

Make sure the bottle of wine has been standing upright long enough to have allowed the sediment to fall to the bottom.

Get yourself a decanter (it doesn’t need to be flash; a clear jug or carafe is absolutely fine).

Peel off the entire capsule so that the bottle neck is completely visible and remove the cork.

Next you need to provide yourself with a light that will let you see exactly what is happening at the bottle neck when you start to pour. You basically need to be able to see when the first grains of sediment are on their way. Some will use candles but in these modern times you can use the torch light from a mobile phone just as effectively!

Begin the pour and, as much as you are able, do this in a steady single movement so that you don’t risk shaking up the sediment.

As soon as you see the sediment in the bottle neck, STOP! Your job is done.

Of course, if all you want to do is aerate the wine, then no torch, candle or worry about the sediment is necessary. You can just crack on and pour.