Have you ever wondered whether or not to decant a wine?
Perhaps you don't care: it's just another rung on the wine snob ladder, right?
Well, there's good reason to decant some wines and doing so will increase your enjoyment of the wine.
There are three objectives to decanting wine: to separate any sediment (particularly from older wines), to aerate the wine, and to modify its temperature.
So when is it a good idea to decant a bottle of wine?
Some young wines benefit from being decanted for an hour or so as it helps the wine become softer, more rounded, and generally more pleasurable to taste. However, leave it too long in the decanter, and it'll lose its freshness and vitality - this is never a problem in my house!
Decanting vintage wines is often a good idea as it helps remove any natural sediments that accumulate over the years. But, care is needed when decanting vintage wines. Expose the wine to too much oxygen, and its precious aromas can become dissipated.
My advice on when to decant a bottle of wine? If it's a vintage wine and you can see sediment in the bottle, decant it gently. If it's a young wine, give it a taste as soon as you open it. If it feels a bit closed and harsh, decant it.
Decant young wines into a vessel that has a large flat base. This will keep as much of the wine as possible in contact with oxygen.
Decant a vintage wine just before serving into a vessel that's narrower to expose less of the wine to oxygen. Take care decanting, go slow, and stop when you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle.