"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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