Improving Wine by Decanting

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Decanting equipment (photo by Tod)

We had a disappointing run of wines at a recent party. There were a few bottles that were drinkable but not enjoyable. Too young. Too harsh.

One of the revelers taught us about decanting wine. I thought decanting was a process reserved for old wines full of sediment, but the aeration makes a huge difference in the flavor of the wine.

So how do you do it? It's easy and you don't even need a special decanter.

  1. Pour the wine from the bottle into a glass pitcher or wide-mouthed jar. Do it from a bit of a height so that the wine splashes into the pitcher.
  2. Allow to sit a few minutes, then swish the wine around in the pitcher. This exposes maximum surface area of the wine to the air.
  3. Pour the wine back into the bottle. A funnel is handy for this step, particularly if you've been testing previously aerated wines.
  4. Taste and repeat as desired.

Some sources suggest decanting wines hours in advance. I don't have the patience for that. The pour and swirl method works well enough for me; mediocre wines become quite decent. Even wine in screw-top bottles can be rescued with this technique.

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Interesting. Does it work for whites? If you think that screw cap = poor wine, try some NZ Sauvignon Blancs or Aussie Rieslings. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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  • Arto: Interesting. Does it work for whites? If you think that read more