There’s much debate in the world of wine about decanting: how to do it, whether to do it, how long to do it for. Again, we’ll aim to keep it simple.
Essentially, decanting is exposing your wine to plenty of oxygen. For a young wine, you might want to do this for a fair while (we’ve seen some young Australian reds under screwcap getting better after six hours in a decanter). For an older wine, you’re risking pushing it over the hill. So as a rule of thumb, more decanting for younger wines (especially if you suspect it’s too young), minimal decanting for older wines.
Some people suggest decanting older wines briefly to get rid of sediment that has collected in the bottle and to reduce any “bottle stink” which might be initially present from a wine being shut away in a bottle for 20 years. We’ve seen this be useful but again, for older wines, don’t push it over the edge.
There’s a common opinion that wines are being made for earlier drinking (compared to wines made 30-40 years ago), because that’s what the market desires. Our experience is probably consistent with that, although there’s still a long list of Australian wines that taste better with some age.
You can pay a LOT for fancy decanters. And we have, because they look REALLY nice. But for the purposes of exposing your wine to oxygen, you really just need a clean, untainted glass vessel that will expose a large surface area of wine to the air. You’ll also want to ensure that it’s easy to pour from.
Small funnels with mesh filters (perhaps source and add link) can be really useful in making the whole process much easier, and preventing spills.
It might not make a big difference but we love our fancy decanters
Photograph by wine(refined)
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