"Wine is about human relations, hospitality, rivalry, bonding, ritual.. the more thought goes into the process of sharing, the more pleasure it can give."
It goes without saying, there is often much thought that goes into serving wine when hosting a dinner party: food pairings, the right number of bottles, wine temperature, and the order in which you are planning on serving them.
Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson, in the eighth edition of The World Atlas of Wine, talk us through the ritual of decanting wine: why, when and how, so you can rest assured you've got at least this aspect covered.
Historically, the main reason you would decant a bottle of wine is to separate the sediment and avoid having mouthfuls of deposit in your glass but "experience shows that it is usually young wines that benefit most", as the oxygen they contain hasn't had very long to take effect. With this in mind, aerating the wine in the decanter can sometimes give an illusion of more maturity.
Depending on the the strength of the wine, they can benefit from anything from 2 to 24 hours in a decanter prior to enjoying. We like to follow Jancis' rule of thumb: young, tannic, alcoholic wines need and can withstand much earlier decanting than old, lighter bodied wines. Full white wines such as white burgundies or Rhônes can benefit from decanting, too - and will look even more beguiling in a decanter than reds.
Should you choose a bottle that contains sediment, you'd want this to have time to sink to the bottom of the bottle, so we'd recommend you let this sit upright for a day or two. With these wines, when removing the cork, keep the bottle as still as possible so as not to disrupt the sunken sediment.
Open the bottle and pour the wine steadily into the decanter; ideally holding a candle to the bottleneck so you can easily spot the sediment moving into the lower neck of the bottle before it accidentally drips into your decanter. And finally, enjoy!
There are actually two distinct shapes that are typically used for old and young wines. Old wines should really go into decanters with minimal headspace to ensure it's not exposed to too much harmful oxygen, whereas young wines work best in decanters that allows for maximum aeration: our young wine decanter has a long neck so you can swirl the wine energetically, encouraging the oxygen to hasten the young wine's evolution and mellow the flavours.
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Photo Credit: @ateliernash
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Do you need a different glass for different wines? Can you drink red wine with fish or white with meat? Is it true that only red wine needs decanting? What is the proper way to taste wine in a restaurant?
Who better to ask these questions to than world-renowned wine critic and our good friend, Jancis Robinson. During Jancis' World Atlas of Wine tour in the US earlier this year, she and Richard popped into Food52 to bust some of the biggest wine myths around.
With Christmas now less than a month away, we can't help but start to think about what is going to feature on our Christmas cheese board this year. Better yet, which wines are we going to match them with?
We could think of anyone better than Wine Expert, Writer and Presenter of the Wine Show Joe Fattorini to recommend his cheese and wine pairings for a foolproof Christmas lunch. Like Joe, we will of course be using the "One Glass for Every Wine" Jancis Robinson wine glass, which comes in handy in such situations as we'll be tasting whites, reds and sweet wines!
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