Friday, February 20, 2015

Decanting Wine 101

Want to make your wine taste $20 better? Try decanting it. Decanting your wine separates any sediment that may have formed while simultaneously aerating the wine, which enhances the aromas and flavors of the wine. Knowing why, when, and how to decant wine can really upgrade that bottle on your table.

Decanting is a simple and easy process. Just pour wine into a large open glass container or decanter and let sit for the desired amount of time. Just pulling out the cork and letting it sit open will not actually do anything, it needs to have a large opening in which wine and oxygen have the freedom to mingle. Avoid using any plastic containers as they will alter the flavor of the wine.
Riedel Red Wine Decanter
We recommend the Riedel Wine Decanter ($59.99) - made of 24% lead crystal, this exquisite decanter has an elegant base that ensures maximum aeration of your wines and an open spout for drip-free pouring. The minimalist design of the decanter puts the focus on your fine wines.
True Fabrications Decanter with Handle
Houdini Wine Carafe
Another great option is the True Fabrications Wine Decanter with Handle ($29.99) for a classic style with a handle for easy no-drip pouring. Or for a more casual look and feel, go with the Houdini Wine Carafe ($19.99).

How long should I decant my wine for?
Decanting times range from about 30 minutes to more than 3 hours depending on the variety and age of the wine. A general rule of thumb is to add 1 hour of decanting for every 10 years that the wine has been aged. Most red wines can benefit from decanting, not just the expensive ones. Here are some guidelines based on different wine varietals, but since every wine is different, be sure to check your wine periodically for "doneness." Make sure that you are allowing your wine to sit at room temperature, not in a cold or sunny spot.

Red Wines
Zinfandel: 30 minutes
Pinot Noir: 30 minutes (e.g. red Bourgogne)
Malbec: 1 hour
Grenache/Garnacha Blend: 1 hour (e.g. Côtes du Rhône, Priorat, GSM)
Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot: 2 hours (e.g. Bordeaux)
Petite Sirah: 2 hours
Tempranillo: 2 hours (e.g. Rioja, Ribera del Deuro)
Sangiovese: 2 hours (e.g. Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti)
Vintage Port & Madeira: 2 hours
Mourvèdre/Monastrell 2-3 hours (e.g. Bandol)
Dão and Douro Reds: 2-3 hours
Syrah/Shiraz: 2-3 hours
Nebbiolo 3+ hours (e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco)

White Wines
Most white wines don't need to be decanted, in fact, if the wine is highly aromatic decanting may actually hurt the wine. Occasionally however, white wines taste funky (think steamed mushrooms) and decanting will fix this! This flavor is common in full-bodied white wines from cooler climates like a white Bourgogne (e.g. Chardonnay). Decant for about 30 minutes.

Aerators do an excellent job of decanting wine in just minutes by forcing air to be circulated through the wine. As you pour, the wine "breathes" as bubbles are sent through it, thus creating a wine with more expansive aromas and/or softer tannins. An aerator can be great for casual meals, where time may be of the essence. We offer several options for aerators that can be purchased in store or online.
Vinturi Aerator
We recommend the Vinturi Wine Aerator ($39.99), which aerates your red wine in seconds. The Host Tilt Mini Aerator ($12.99) is also a great inexpensive option and it is small enough to fit in your pocket!
Host Tilt Mini Aerator

Getting in all the nooks and crannies to thoroughly clean your decanter can be tricky. It's recommended to not use dish soap to clean the inside of decanters as it can be too difficult to remove all of the detergent, which can adversely affect the aromas and flavors of the wine. recommends washing the outside with hot water first and then rinsing the inside with cold water, which helps to keep the glass from getting foggy on the inside. We use this nifty Glass Cleaning Brush ($7.99) to easily clean our decanter and our wine glasses too. Plus they're scratch free cleaners so you don't have to worry about ruining your glassware.

Glass Cleaning Brush
For more information on decanting wine, check out!

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